The L Word

Aidan’s Father’s account:

It was Monday, September 13th and I was enjoying an uneventful day at work when my wife, Katie, called crying.  She said, “We just had a blood test and they think Aidan has Leukemia!”  I told Katie I would come straight home and we would figure it all out together.  I turned to my boss who knew we were expecting a baby soon.  She saw the look on my face and with a hesitant voice said, “Is the baby coming?”  I told her and my concerned coworkers what my wife had just told me.  It was not until I actually said it out loud that it became a reality to me.

During my frantic drive home I dug through my emotionally disjointed memory banks trying to find any recall of the word Leukemia.  I remembered hearing the word several times in movies, books, magazines and passing conversation, but I could not remember any facts or statistics that would give a structure to the situation. Only that it was one of the most nightmarishly horrific words ever spoken, and I based that off of the way it had always been said.  Every time I had heard the word, the person saying it either unconvincingly choked back tears or whispered the word as if it was the name of a recently passed loved one. So, I knew the word leukemia was associated with death.

When I saw my wife I knew that she had the same lose definition of the word that I did.  I don’t think I need to embellish how long the next 5 hours felt to us.  My wife and I thought we were losing the only person in the world who meant more to each of us than the other, and my son’s mood was noticeably affected by the growing group of ill informed adults waiting impatiently for answers.

“97% curable, not 97% treatable… curable!”  Dr. Weiser had saved us from the darkest rock bottom depths of our own overactive imaginations.  Leukemia was not the death sentence we all thought it was, Aidan has the most common and treatable form.

We have been able to move on to our new norm with a positive perspective.  Now we are focused on making Aidan comfortable with the changes he has to endure.  He has to wear a Hickman, which is tube that runs from the front of his chest under the skin up to his neck, into a vein and back down the inside of the vein close to his heart.  He does not like it.  He knows it is in him and that creeps him out. He has been put under sedation three times now, once for the bone marrow test to confirm leukemia, a second for the Hickman, and a third for the spinal tap and the first dose of chemo. When something hurts he doesn’t cry any longer than absolutely necessary, and he tells us what he doesn’t like and why it’s stupid.  He understands everything as well as I do, and doesn’t pull away or fight anyone with anything.  During the good times he enjoys scaring the nurses with his new creepy clown mask, and he never breaks character.  During the bad times we rest and watch Goosebumps or Sponge Bob.  He will have nearly  three years of treatment and all of the side affects associated.  Aidan has many ups and downs ahead of him, but the good news is thanks to the good doctors at Wesley hospital we will make it through.

40 Responses to The L Word

  1. Vicky says:

    Hey, just thought i would post you a quick message from the UK. I had leukaemia when i was eight years old and went into remission within months of the two year treatment plan. Im now 23 and in my final year of a PhD in leukaemia research and im fit and healthy. It was a hard experience for myself and my family, but i think it has played a part in making me who i am today and we are all doing well. I just wanted to send my thoughts and best wishes to you, Aidan and the rest of the family and just reassure you that although there will be tough times ahead during Aidan’s treatment, he can go on to live a completely normal and successful life despite his early experiences. Take care x

  2. Mamapork says:

    Hi Katie – I’m sorry to hear about Aidan’s diagnose. I came across your blog thru your Etsy store of Aidan’s beautiful drawings. I typed in “Leukemia” on the search box on Etsy to find L&L related items to purchase…why, u might ask?… because I am a mother who has a 3 year old son who is also battling Leukemia ALL right now, and he was diagnosed on 7/12/2010. I’d love to connect and share our chemo stories to help support each other. I love your blog and will follow Aidan’s journey from here on out. I’d love to connect via email. Our story is here: http://www.facebook.com/ADiaryForCooper

  3. Samantha says:

    Hello,
    Read about your story from Regretsy. Very touched by Aidan’s story. I teach drama and am a big supporter of the arts. I told my students about Aidan and how he loves to draw and how art has the power to heal. They would love to send him cards. Is there an address we can send them to? I will continue to follow your story and share with them regardless. Peace and Light.

  4. Naluh says:

    My love and best wishes for Aidan.
    Kisses from Brazil.
    ;)

  5. Annabel says:

    I am unbelievably inspired by Aidan, you’re an amazing little bloke! :)

  6. Chris Thomas says:

    It’s brave of you to put all this out here on the web. Back in 1989 I was diagnosed with ALL as well – I was 9 at the time and treatments and survival rates were, as you might imagine, a little more dire than they are today. 97%! That’s great news.

    Today I’m a software developer who volunteers with kids with cancer at a camp in Front Royal, VA. I’m married and we’ve got twins on the way (yikes!). I’m sharing this with you because, in my experience both being and working with childhood cancer patients, I’ve seen the parents go through a lot wondering if their kids will ever be able to have a normal life.

    They can and they will.

    That said, I would urge you to try to find some organizations in your area that provide support services for Adian. I’m not talking about therapy or anything structured but just being around other childhood cancer patients and having a chance to socialize with others going through what he’s going through is so tremendously helpful.

    If you happen for some reason to be in the Northern Virginia Area or within a sane and reasonable distance from it, look up Special Love (www.speciallove.org). It’s the group I volunteer with and they really do AMAZING work. I know it’s hard to send your child – particularly when he’s sick – away to camp for a week but trust me when I say that it makes all the difference in the world.

    Stay strong. Keep fighting. You can do this.

    • Mamapork says:

      Chris, thank you for sharing your story about living with Leukemia when you were 9. It’s amazing how much you can remember at that age I bet. It moves me to know that you are now a grown man, married and soon to have kids and living a VERY normal life. It gives me lots of hope and reassures me, as my 3 year old son is also living with Leukemia as well right now and going thru chemo. Thank you showing us the light.

  7. Betty says:

    Aidan, you are my hero!! ♥ ♥ ♥

  8. Jillian says:

    Aidan – we’re rooting for you here in Sacramento, CA! I was about Aiden’s age while my mom was going through breast cancer treatment at the age of 32. It is such a scary word, but modern medicine has given the gift of life to so many. Mom’s a 23-year survivor, btw. The treatments for all cancers have dramatically improved since then. We’ll continue to pray for Aidan, his family and friends, and for the doctors and nurses that treat him.

    When you’re able, I highly recommend support services for Aidan and family. Counseling helps, but meeting and talking with other families is very helpful, too. Knowing you are not alone, having someone to laugh with, a shoulder to cry on when you need it…it helps so much. God bless, and keep it up, Aidan!

  9. Jessie says:

    Hi, I just wanted to say how touching I think Aidan’s story is and the idea to sell his creations is inspiring, I live in the UK and plan on purchasing lots of pictures and badges from his store and promoting the cause over here in the UK! (I’ve already posted info about Aidan, his story and his store on my blog!) Aidan, you must be one of the bravest little souls out there and though it breaks my heart that things like this happen, I’ll keep praying for you and your family and everyone else suffering. Keep that smile of yours kiddo, because it’s beautiful. God bless you all.

  10. Heather says:

    I have posted the link to Aiden’s Etsy shop and encouraged my friends to purchase. I am an oncology nurse for adults, mostly those with leukemia and lymphoma. Tomorrow I will be attending a meeting held by they Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to find out how I can help raise money for cancer research with their Team in Training program. It’s a great program that trains participants on how to run a marathon or complete bicycling races and how to get sponsors to raise money for LLS. Seeing this website and Aiden’s little face helps me remember why it is that I keep fighting for a cure. Good luck to Aiden and his family during this.

  11. Kelvin Thum says:

    Hey kiddo, your vampire pic is just awesome! I liked it the most. Keep up your good work, you’re an artist deep inside. I’d love to buy but I opt to donate for you instead. I know how your parents feel seeing you going through all the chemos, trust me I do, hey just keep a tiny smile on your face and the people around you will be as happy as you are! Get well soon, grow up healthy and help your parents take good care of your little bro. Aight? :-)

  12. Ashley says:

    Your son is beautiful inside and out….and so are the two of you. Aiden’s story absolutely broke my heart, but it warmed it as well. He’s so strong, talented, and I wish you all the best from the very bottom of my heart. All three of you are simply amazing people and I can’t help but admire you. I have every intention of showing Aiden’s shop to everyone I know! I’m posting a link to my DeviantArt account, my facebook page, and my blog. Best of luck!
    Ashley

  13. John says:

    I am going to order a print today. I wish that I could do more, but hopefully every little drop will eventually fill your bucket. I am on the Marrow Donor list, so Aidan is more than welcome to my Marrow if it’s compatible!

  14. Robert Serge says:

    my wife and i would like to buy one of Aidans monster drawing but can,t find a addrees to send for the drawing god bless you all

  15. Val says:

    I just wanted to let you know that my family is very touched by your sons story. My husband and I have a 5 yr old daughter and she really liked Aidan’s drawing and so we bought one for her. She also likes scary stuff, and drawing and such. I really hope he feels better soon and that you all remain strong and know there are so many people out here who now love and care for your son too.

  16. Neil B says:

    Your story is touching, and very inspiring for me. My family is also fighting the fight against the Big C and reading about Aiden and his drawings put a smile on my face today.

    I look forward to reading updates in the future about Aiden and family.

  17. Deb Vachon says:

    Hi Aidan,

    You are an inspiration to me and I hope to my kindergarten students. You prove that even young kids can make a difference in this world. You are very talented, and extremely courageous. I can’t wait to show your artwork to my students. I promise to keep you and your family in my prayers. Hang tough, and stay positive. Happy Holidays, Aidan.

    Sincerely,
    Deb Vachon
    Ernest P. Barka School
    Derry, NH 03038

  18. Kimyata Jackson says:

    I am with the national bone marrow donor program. I would love to see if I am possible match for your son.
    please email me
    To everyone out there please register and be the match. People need our help and we can save lives.

  19. victoria says:

    i think this is soooo awsome ,im 14yrs old n iv never had lukemia or anything like that but i can imagine how painfull it must be , i hope aidan gets better day by day. me and a few of my friends want to raise money for him ,we’ll do bake sales and all that foundrasing stuff =) we honestlly want to help and all that money will for shure go to buying all his little monsters to cure this awsome little boy!! =D

  20. Christina says:

    Hi Aiden & family:

    Your story is truly inspiring.
    I love your spirit and of course, your drawings. I would not be surprised if you became a famous artist one day..
    Also…a few of your masks are truly terrifying!

    Good luck <3

  21. Emily Downin says:

    this is an amazing story, i am 18 years old and i once had acute leukemia also. it was a scary time for me and my family. i feel that i have grown a lot from it. it made me a stronger person. i hope the best for aiden. also, i would love if you could email me.
    thanks.
    stay strong

  22. Katy Zweig says:

    Best wishes to you all. We had the same diagnoses on the same date a year earlier…for my son, Sammy who is now 6. It gets easier in so many ways, hang in there and stay positive. We will be buying some pictures for Christmas gifts.
    Much love and hugs,
    Katy xxx

  23. Sarah says:

    Hi Aidan and family!

    Thank you for sharing your story and for the wonderful artwork – I can’t wait to give them to my family as belated Christmas presents! I just wanted to tell you to hang in there and keep those spirits up – this WILL GET BETTER.

    I can remember the day 12 years ago that my 2 year-old cousin was diagnosed with leukemia – I, a sixth grader, came home to find my parents in the kitchen, Mom crying, Dad having just returned from a run (his way of tackling stressful events). They told me that Nicki had leukemia, and I remember being so sad and scared. It was rough watching her go through treatments – she got so puffy from the steroids and lost all of her hair, and my aunt also had to leave the room during spinal taps or “back pinchies” as Nicki called them.

    Here’s the good news. Nicki is 19 years old, just graduated from high school, in her freshman year at Penn State, and recepient of a Make A Wish scholarship for survivors. She is officially “cured.”

    The same will happen for Aiden, and someday you will look back at all of this and realize that it has given you a new and different perspective on life and has made you all stronger people.

    I wish you health and happiness, and will keep your family in my thoughts and prayers.
    ~Sarah

  24. Aidan says:

    God bless you, Aidan.

    From, another Aidan.

  25. Tae Scott-Smith says:

    Reed Family,

    You will remain in my daily prayers for Aidan’s continued upbeat attitude and complete healing during this journey. Our son, Ethan, is three years past his diagnosis of a cancerous brain tumor on Oct. 12, 2007. It’s amazing, isn’t it, how a date of something so horrific stays etched in your mind like a birthday or anniversary would? I think I know the date better than I know my social security number. : / Ethan underwent much of the same cancer treatments and procedures as your son, save for the obvious of brain surgery. I ache for you, knowing the emotional blender you have gone through, but am relieved to know that you are adjusting and keeping family at the top of it all. Love, humor, strength from one another and friends (known or not), and hope get you through each day–but you already know that.

    I will pass along Aidan’s story to all I know and ask them to do the same. He is not only one amazingly strong little man, but he’s super talented, too! His drawings are incredibly detailed and almost seem to move right there on the paper. Part of that is the reason I decided to write on here. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be neat if Aidan got to work with artists or comic book creators or the like for his Make-A-Wish?” Then I wondered if anyone has mentioned Make-A-Wish to you or if you have checked into it at all. I’m almost positive that he’s elegible, since he’s facing a life-threatening illness. If you haven’t looked into it yet, you should.

    Ethan spent many nights in the hospital dreaming about things he might like to do for his Wish. When you feel so terrible and can’t eat or sleep sometimes, just the little thought of something better on the other side of the dark days really helps to keep spirits up. Ethan waited almost 2 years before choosing what he wanted to use his Wish for; he wanted to go meet the Blue Man Group–which he did and then some: met them, watched a live show, got a personal backstage in-depth tour, performed in a jam session with the band and became an honorary Blue Man to boot! It was wonderful, but the endless possibilities were just as priceless to us, as they helped keep him dreaming and chugging forward.

    Anyway, I just wanted to pass that along to you in hopes that it might make the icky days a little bit brighter. God bless you all! <3

    • aidforaidan says:

      The date he was diagnosed through bone marrow testing was September 14 th, but for me the date is the 13th because that’s when the PCP 1st said leukemia. We always appreciate perspective from parents who have been through this kind of thing. Thanks so much for your prayers. How is Ethan now?

      • aidforaidan says:

        I forgot make a wish. We answered their questions and waiting for a response, I’m sure they will help us out. Not sure what he would want though, we don’t want to make too big of a production out of it until it is a sure thing. He may want to meet one of his scary movie guys like Bruce Campbell/Ash, Tyler Main who played Michal Myers or his favorite musician Rob Zombie.

  26. Cooper's Mom says:

    Tae – Ethan’s story is inspiring esp for those who are fighting… like Aidan here… and also my son Cooper, who is also fighting with Leukemia. I can’t wait till I can tell others the story u have just told about Ethan. The Make-A-Wish foundation is an awesome group and I have thought about making a wish come true my son Cooper too, just to put a big smile on his face but he is only 3 and does not know how to tell me what he wishes for. Thanks for sharing your story Tae. And its so great to hear what a different make-a-wish did for your little man with the Blue Man Group, sounds awesome.

  27. Brandi Chase says:

    Hello Aidan. I’m a 37 year old woman just finishing two years of chemotherapy treatment for ALL T-Cell, my last day of treatment is this December 29th. It is pretty unusual for some one as old as me to get the same kind of cancer you did. You aren’t alone in this! I’ll be watching your journey and cheering you on. Go man! Go!

  28. Katrina says:

    Hi guys,
    My sister was diagnosed with Leukaemia at 3 years old, my parents got the terrible news on New Years eve 33 years ago.. She is now 36 and is doing fantastically well. It was a horrible sad time for my family, my parents can certainly sympathize with how you felt when you received the heart wrenching news that day.. My sister was always happy and upbeat which I believe helped her through this tough uphill battle that she fought and won. And seeing that huge beautiful smile on Aidan’s face in the pictures, shows how strong and determined he is to make it up that hill and over the other side to lead a wonderful long life in the future… Good luck to you and Aidan and your gorgeous baby boy.. Best wishes Katrina

  29. Melanie F says:

    Hey guys,
    My sister was just diagnosed with AML in October. She is 36 and has a nine month old beautiful girl. Most people don’t understand how challenging and expensive this can be even apart from the medical bills. As her sister and caregiver, I have seen the time and money it takes to heal from this horrible disease. I wish all of you the best! I think the pictures are awesome and plan to purchase one as soon as more become available. May God bless your family.

  30. Kristian Edvardsson says:

    Just got my Monster drawing, my son who is also five really liked it as well.
    Hope things are well.

    Kristian

  31. Alessandro L. says:

    Hi Aidan,
    first of all, sorry for my english.
    I have known your history just today and I have sent you a little aid.
    Sorry if it isn’t much.
    AIDAN AN EXTRAORDINARY BOY
    God bless you
    Alessandro – Torino – Italy

  32. Toni Azevedo says:

    Hi, guys!
    My name is Toni Azevedo, I’m a 39 year old brazilian internet entrepreneur.
    A few minutes ago I read a news at a local web portal about Aindan’s healing campaign.
    It is one of the most touching stories I’ve ever heard.
    I made a little donation, once the drawings are no longer available.
    However I felt a deep desire to send a message to Aidan. Please, let him know:

    “Hi, Aidam! I’m from Brazil, a distant country from yours. I have a 4 year old boy and he is my life, the biggest love in my life. I’m sure your parents feel the same for you. You are a very, very, very brave, strong e beatfiful child. Despite I know you just for few minutes I’m now a dedicated fan.
    Please receive love vibrations from me and my family!
    We are all looking forward for your healing!
    Much love!
    Toni Azevedo

    meet me at http://www.facebook.com/TonicoAzevedo

  33. Jerry says:

    I also had Leukemia as a kid. I’m 30 now, and like everyone else commenting here, I know that Aidan is going to pull through and be a star for years to come.

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