By Jackie, a Children’s National Hospital parent
Our relationship with Children’s National began in August 2015. We had just returned from an international vacation, and Lucas was very ill. His lymph nodes were extremely swollen. He was having trouble breathing and would randomly fall asleep. He was not his normal, energetic 8-year-old self.
I cannot accurately describe how I felt the moment I learned Lucas had cancer. When I asked if he would be OK, the doctors were honest. They did not know. I never thought I would face a moment in which I wondered if my child would die. But that day, and for many days after, I could think of nothing else. The doctors outlined their treatment plan and were available any time I had concerns.
For the next three and a half years, Children’s National was our second home. The first year was the hardest. Luca was placed into a medically-induced coma and intubated for aggressive chemotherapy treatments. I did not talk to him or hear his voice for seven days. He couldn’t come home for weeks. He missed the first month of third grade and getting to know his classmates. He missed fall soccer and birthday parties.
In the following months, Lucas stayed at the hospital for treatments or visited weekly. He missed Thanksgiving, school field trips and sports. The treatments were hard on his little body. He lost weight, his skin changed color and his hair fell out, among other physical and emotional changes. It was hard to watch him endure the side effects of the strong medicine needed to save his life. However, Lucas would not be here without the expertise of his oncology team.
The oncologists, nurses and all of the staff on the 4th floor cared as much about saving my son as I did. Three-and-a-half years later, Children’s National has become part of our family. Now he is 12 years old. His treatment ended a year ago. He’s back to participating in sports and hanging out with his friends. I am forever thankful for the dedicated staff at Children’s National for saving Lucas’ life.