Stories From the Heart: Small Details Make a Big Difference
Two years ago, Oanh Dang took her son Chase to the pediatrician’s office because she was concerned that her 3-year-old wasn’t acting like a typical toddler. He was tired all the time and his skin was pale.
When blood work detected an extremely high white blood count, Chase was referred to the Studer Family Children’s Hospital Pediatric ER for further workup. He was quickly admitted to the pediatric ICU. It was then that Oanh received news that no parent is ever prepared to hear: Chase had acute myeloid leukemia, a condition where white blood cells turn cancerous and don’t work as they should.
“I was in such shock that the diagnosis didn’t register at the time,” Oanh said. “Everything happened so fast that I didn’t have time to sort out my feelings.”
A couple of days later, Chase underwent surgery to place a central venous line that would provide a more comfortable way to deliver chemotherapy. During Chase’s two-year journey with leukemia, he has received care locally and away from home.
“It’s absolutely amazing to have a children’s hospital close to home because I can lean on my family for support,” Oanh said. The times she’s been away from home, she said it’s been exhausting to have it all rest on your shoulders.
When life is filled with big changes, sometimes it’s the little things that bring the most comfort. Last year, Studer Family Children’s Hospital opened the Bear Family Foundation Pediatric Oncology Center for Hope. With a play area, family room and movie room, it was designed to give kids the space they need to be kids. Oanh said the pediatric oncology unit meant Chase could see his siblings and connect with other kids like him. It was also the first time Oanh had the chance to talk to other moms who are on a similar journey.
Oanh is grateful for the Child Life staff who always remember the small details that make hospital admissions more home-like. “Chase doesn’t like hospital sheets, so when he is admitted for treatment, a special set of sheets is already on his bed.”
Chase has undergone two bone marrow transplants, with the latest taking place in April. While Chase relapsed 70 days after recovering new blood cells, Oanh and her family are taking it day by day and continue to stay positive. “Chase started hospital homebound school this year, which keeps him busy.”
For more information on pediatric cancer care, visit getascensioncare.com/pediatrics/oncology/florida/pensacola.