For three months Cezar’s parents watched him limp with no clue as to what was wrong. Hoping to find answers, they visited the hospital where Cezar had three x-rays, an MRI, and fluid removed from his hip, knee, and ankle. Unfortunately, the family was sent home with no answers. Less than a month later, they visited Cezar’s primary care physician and were told that his blood work came back abnormal and that his liver and spleen were enlarged. It was then that they were admitted to the hematology/oncology unit at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. Cezar was diagnosed with pre-b cell ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) with a survival rate of 95%.
While at Children’s, Cezar received blood and platelets and had a “port” placed so he could begin chemotherapy. However, during his port placement surgery, Cezar had heart rate complications and came out of surgery with a chest tube that required him to stay in pediatric intensive care (PICU) for two days. During this stay, he was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, and the removal of his chest tube caused further complications resulting in another surgery to remove fluid from around his heart and lung. Also during those two days, Cezar received chemotherapy, a lumbar puncture, three blood and platelets transfusions, three abdominal x-rays, 14 chest x-rays, a lymph node scan, an EKG, an echocardiogram, and a bone marrow aspirate. The bone marrow aspirate revealed that his diagnosis had changed to Philadelphia + Pre-B cell ALL. This form of leukemia has only a 3% survival rate. However, if Cezar took a medication called Gleevac every day, his survival rate would increase to 70%.
Unfortunately, the Gleevac made Cezar nauseous. In response, doctors inserted a feeding tube allowing him to take this life-saving drug every day. Then less than a month after being diagnosed with Philadelphia + Pre-B cell ALL, Cezar came down with a high fever and had to make another trip to the ER, where he was given blood cultures and antibiotics. It was then discovered that Cezar had an infection in his port, which would need to be removed and replaced with a new port through his jugular vein.
To date, Cezar has a scheduled hospital stay every three weeks where he receives a lumbar puncture and multiple chemotherapies. X-rays and CT scans have revealed that in addition to his cancer, he also has kidney stones, walking pneumonia, and a vertebra that is smaller than normal. In addition, Cezar has been on 24-hour feeds through his naso-gastric tube and has lost range of motion in his ankles. He has started physical therapy and now uses braces and a walker to get around.
Though Cezar has been through a lot, he continues to laugh and love life. He loves playing outside, eating at McDonalds, and enjoying Spiderman. Every day presents a new challenge for him, but he continues to remain a fighter and a miracle.