Joey is a bit of a mystery! 🙂
He's ACTIVE. Basketball, soccer, swimming, trampoline, tennis, golf, plus he loves anything with wheels, roller-blades, scooters, bikes, or heelies...but he is also almost painfully shy. Those that know him know he is smart, funny, caring and an overall normal 11-year-old boy. He didn’t let Cancer keep him down.
It all started one Friday night in April of 2018, the last Friday of Spring Break to be exact. I pop in the bathroom to gather some towels and Joey was getting into his pajamas. I glance at him and tell him to stand up straight, he looked all crooked. Then I look back and notice it…a 'lump' on his collarbone that looked a little scary. I grab John and he takes a look. We call a friend that is a nurse and ask her to take a look to see if she thinks it is ER worthy. It’s not painful or red, no fever, no other symptoms, so we decide it can wait until Monday.
Two weeks out for Spring Break and we pull him from school on the first day back for a doctor’s appointment! I felt so guilty. Our appointment with our pediatrician led to an ultrasound of the area and bloodwork. Even our Pediatrician thought it was a reaction to an infection. However, just to be safe, he ordered a chest x-ray. The results of that x-ray led to the words no parent ever wants to hear....
Our pediatrician was calling us with the results within the hour. I was just starting to get the kids’ dinner… the phone call no one wants to receive, the gut wrenching words “Mrs. Beahrs, I need you to be in a private place to talk, can you go somewhere in the house away from the kids? Can you put your husband on the phone too?”
The next few minutes were a blur, words I’d never heard and didn’t know how to spell. John choked up and speechless. Our doctor had already called Riley (Children’s Hospital) and made us an appointment for the next day.
So, the next day at Riley Children's Hospital Joey had an IV, labs, CT scan and biopsy all in one day. The results of those tests came back the next day as cancer.
Our first result: Not acute. They were able to rule out Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma but whatever it was, it was already stage 2 because it was in his neck and chest. Another 24 hour wait for the diagnosis. No matter what - they say - this is highly treatable and curable.
Joey was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma Nodular Sclerosis. They thought they saw a lesion in his spleen so more testing to diagnose staging. Another full day at Riley, PET/CT and a bone marrow biopsy. At this point they go ahead and insert his PICC line since they know chemotherapy is a given. Since he has a mass in his chest that is pushing against his heart and windpipe, they don’t want to fully sedate him so he gets a PICC line instead of a chest port. Then more waiting and finally a confirmed diagnosis...NO Lymphoma in his bone marrow!
So, his final diagnosis Hodgkins Lymphoma Nodular Sclerosis Stage 3A Bulky. From finding a suspicious lump until starting chemo?
Such a blur of events. Write it all down everyone tells us. Boy, they were right. So many questions, symptoms, things to do, clean, things to watch out for. We had to get ready to battle.
We were blessed to be able to do his chemotherapy outpatient at Riley Children’s Hospital North, just 20 minutes from home. 3 days of treatment one week, 1 day of treatment the next, then a week off. Four rounds of this. We knew he could do it.
We had so many cool foundations reach out and donate items to put a smile on Joey’s face. So many people that cared so much.
Did he hurt? Yes. One of his drugs made his jaw hurt. One made his tummy hurt. One made his bones hurt from the inside out. One made his hair fall out.
We had so many friends help and encourage and support.
After chemotherapy, his mass didn’t shrink as much as they would have liked so we were told he needed radiation therapy. After some debate and talking to some professionals, we decide to seek out the safer Proton Therapy Treatment instead of Photon. This meant driving to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for 14 weekdays in a row. A little over 2 hours drive each way.
Our friends again came to the rescue. Dinners, rides, gifts, gift cards.
October 2019 - Clean scans and a healthy 11-year-old!
Our family has been called to GIVE BACK to those who gave so much. We want to support other charities close to our heart and also give directly to those who need it. We want to help other kids SMILE on their dark days. Feel HAPPY amidst their pain. Bring JOY where it is needed most. We want to help those not as fortunate as us to provide for their families during a difficult time. We want to be the GOOD so many are looking for when a child is diagnosed with Cancer.
We also want to help fund research and help raise awareness to the needs of Childhood Cancer.
November 2023 - Great health for the now 15-year-old!
If you've read this far, thank you! Joey continues to be a healthy teenager. Don't get us wrong, as parents, every headache, itch, or ailment still sends our thoughts to dark places, but Joey has been cancer-free now for 4 years. His labs and scans have back clean and he has been moved to "Survivor Clinic" to learn more about the toxins put in his body, what residual effects to look for, and how to maintain that health instead of constantly looking for relapse. This is a good thing and we are so grateful!