Give for Texans – Lincoln’s Story
Platelets, family and faith support the fight against childhood cancer
Ashley Torres describes her son Lincoln as charming, kind, personable and witty. Like many 7-year-old boys, he loves being outdoors, playing with his friends, and avoiding vegetables at supper.
But there’s another defining word Ashley uses when she talks about Lincoln, and that’s “brave.”
This past summer, Lincoln was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (also referred to as T-ALL), which makes up 12% to 15% of acute lymphoblastic leukemia cases in children.
“His diagnosis was unexpected,” Ashley said. “Due to the size of a mass in the right side of his chest, we knew it was aggressive.”
The family took an assertive approach in helping Lincoln begin his fight against cancer. After being admitted to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Lincoln immediately needed platelets as part of his treatment. The disease causes patients to have low platelet counts, which can lead to issues with blood clotting and bleeding disorders.
“As Lincoln and all the warrior kids at Cook Children’s continue chemotherapy, they desperately rely on platelet donations,” Ashley said.
In his mother’s own words, this is Lincoln’s story:
Our story leading up to diagnosis is like so many. Signs and symptoms were chalked up to seasonal allergies or unknown viruses post-Covid. There were repeated urgent care visits, pediatrician follow-ups, lingering low-grade fevers with negative flu tests and negative Covid tests. The unusual symptoms just didn’t add up. If it doesn’t settle with your soul, there is a reason.
With the support and encouragement of a friend who parents a medically compromised child, I demanded a blood test panel be done. What’s important is we caught it when we did.
Platelets and blood are needed consistently throughout the first eight-and-a-half months of treatment. He received his first transfusion on Day 2 of diagnosis.
We successfully made it through the first two weeks of the “intensification phase” of treatment. We still have another eight weeks to go in this phase, but we will keep celebrating small victories as they come.
In this phase of treatment, he has spent four to five days out of seven at the hospital receiving transfusions. That’s been a lot to take on, but the number of visits will slow down for the next several weeks before building back up again.
He has weekly spinal taps to inject a chemo medication straight into the spinal fluid and that is tough on him. It’s a hard process of trial-and-error to see what method works best. He is often anxious about getting his port re-accessed and isn’t a fan of his daily pills increasing, but in true Lincoln the Brave fashion, he does what he must do.
As a parent, it’s hard to witness when things don’t go well and leaves me with a lingering helpless feeling that is often hard to shake. We are programmed to protect our kids from harm and hurt, but Lincoln’s resilient attitude reminds me to follow by his example.
His attitude and comfort about his balding hair comes and goes, for instance. We have let him decide what to do with his hair on his own time, and yesterday evening he finally decided to make the buzzcut plunge. Afterward, he admired himself in the mirror several times and said, “I look handsome!”
He asked me last night if I thought God had a plan for him and why he got cancer. I assured him God has big plans for him. I reminded him this is hard and not fair, but he is special. He is not alone and his fight, without doubt, has meaning.
There are many scary moments in this journey. Cancer has rocked our world, but it’s also brought us closer to God, anchored my faith and helped me see the good when it presents itself. It’s put a lot of things in perspective, and we’ve been abundantly blessed with layers of love and support.
It’s Lincoln at the enemy lines with this disease, but he is not alone and neither are we, his family.
The blood and platelet shortage is a crisis I was totally unaware of until it was our own. There have been transfusion appointments when we are told we may not receive the transfusion of red blood cells or platelets until the following day when there are more supplies, even though Lincoln’s body needs it sooner.
I know I can never truly repay donors for their time and energy to donate, but trust me when I say it’s appreciated beyond measure.
Lincoln has just begun his fight that will, at minimum, be two-and-a-half years long. He will be in and out of the cancer clinic at Cook Children’s hospital, trying to find his new normal in a life we never expected.
This disease is harsh, unfair and doesn’t care who it hurts. The precious children like Lincoln who are fighting childhood cancer have enough to battle themselves. We can and must lighten their load with donations of blood and platelets.
You can make a lifesaving difference for Lincoln and other children in need by donating blood, platelets or plasma. Make an appointment at a Carter BloodCare donor center or mobile blood drive near you, or call 800-366-2834 today.
Your experience as a Carter BloodCare donor or recipient can save lives by motivating others to donate. Please share your experience and Tell Us Your Story.