The story of our son Jordan’s (JJ’s) diagnosis was a bit different than most stories you will hear… There was no sickness leading up to it, no paleness, no low energy, really no nothing… He had just recently turned 4, so I took him in for his annual checkup and he passed with flying colors. We were saying our goodbyes to the doctor when I remembered that I had wanted to have his iron checked because I had felt that I noticed him bruising more than I was used to. She looked at his legs and arms and everything again and said that he didn’t have any abnormal bruising and that if he ever had bruising it was due to the roughness that came with his age. She said she felt his color was fine so we did not need to check it. I asked her to do it for my peace of mind so she did. She came back a few moments later and asked that we recheck it because it was slightly low, but assured me that their machine is sometimes off by a little bit. After rechecking, it came back even lower so she sent us to the lab for a full CBC just to be on the safe side.
That appointment and our lab draw was on a Wednesday and I didn’t hear anything back until I received a text message from their office on Saturday asking that I urgently take him to a local hospital to be checked out. The message was very vague and just said that his labs were off so I needed to rush him in as soon as possible. I tried calling the office but it was closed Saturday’s so all I had was this text to go off of… I dropped everything and had his dad come home from work so that we could take him in. We went and they ran their own labs there… we were there for 9 hours until the doctor finally came in and said “I’m not sure if he has some sort of viral thing going on or maybe some anemia but I can tell you that I am 99.9% sure he does not have leukemia or any type of cancer and that is why they made you bring him here today. You can follow up with Valley Children’s in Madera to check for the anemia.” We got an appointment at Valley on that following Wednesday so exactly a week from his annual checkup, and they ran labs and came back less than an hour later and told us that JJ 100% sure had leukemia. My world came crashing down in an instant. I remember how easily the word leukemia seemed to roll off of her tongue and how everything after that word was so distorted I can’t even fully remember the whole conversation. At the time I knew absolutely nothing about leukemia. I thought she was telling me that my son was dying. I really can’t accurately describe the feeling and emotions that I went through in that moment. JJ was sitting on the little hospital bed watching his iPad with his little brother and I didn’t want to ask any of the scary questions I had in front of him so when I could bring myself to it I quietly mouthed to her “is he going to die?’ and I think that’s the moment she realized how clueless I was and she began to give me statistics and assure me it wasn’t a death sentence.
It was 5 days before Christmas and we would be admitted right then and there for at least 8 days. He would have to have a bone marrow biopsy the next day and a port placed, and chemo started the day after that. For my little family, life as we knew it ended that day… and I know it will never ever be the same. We have gone through and seen things no one should ever have to… we’ve watched our son inflate like a balloon, lose his ability to walk, have all of his hair fall out, throw up for hours on end, and just so many other things that are indescribable due to the steroids and harsh chemo… never again will a bruise just be a bruise, never will random pains seem like normal growing pains or something innocent.. every little thing is cause for concern and you’re not completely in the clear for a very very long time if ever really. However, I’ve come to not only accept, but to be thankful for our new normal. Because I know there are some parents who don’t get that chance… there are some out there (a few that we know personally) that would do anything to live our new normal as long as they’d have their child back.
JJ has had to endure so much more than I ever could have imagined in his short time he’s spent in this world… and he isn’t done yet. We’re a little over two years into this journey and I am just so very thankful for his braveness, his courage, and his light that has shown so bright on even the darkest of days… and those dark days are very very dark. I am beyond happy to tell you though that JJ completed his treatment last June and continues to get healthier every day!!
Our little family is so very grateful for Tigerfight Foundation and for people like you who allow Tigerfight Foundation to do all that they do. We were first introduced to Tigerfight Foundation by our Valley Children’s Hospital social worker back in December of 2017. And since that initial correspondence they have provided us with financial assistance annually. Please know from the bottom of my heart that what you are doing here with this organization truly matters to so many of us.
Ashley Cockrell (JJ’s Mom)