Callum Madson was very recently diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) on Saturday March 18th, 2017. Up until this date Callum was a very healthy child only needing to go in for his child wellness visits. This past winter was very different for him.
Starting towards end of November, Cal started to catch anything and everything. In December he had Strep. Almost immediately following that he caught a double ear infection and pneumonia. Just when he was on the mends he got a terrible strain of stomach flu that kept him bedridden for a week. If you were one of many that also got that bug you know how bad it was. Again, he started getting better. Then he caught influenza B virus and this is where he journey begins. He couldn't shake the signs of influenza B. There were on again off again fevers and moments of overwhelming tiredness. As parents we thought, "ok, he's going more places than usual, seeing more people than in years past; he's also a growing boy so maybe another growth spurt".
It was the fevers that finally got to us. They were so frequent and leave as quickly as they came. Example: Cal would wake perfectly fine, two hours later fever with tiredness, two hours of resting, fever gone and back to playing.
On Friday, March 17, Chad received a call from Cal's speech therapist. Cal complained he didn't feel good. His temperature was checked and he had a fever. Chad picked him up from school, brought him home. Cal ate a pancake and proceeded to act as if he had never had a fever. When he originally got home, there was much talk about what was going on? How many times is he going to be getting sick? Should we contact his pediatrician? When Cal started acting fine we thought maybe he had started to learn how to "fake" being sick, but you can't fake a fever (that of course by then had disappeared). We waited, going about our day. Then came the fever and tiredness. Last straw that broke the Camel's back.
I called up to Gundersen Clinic to make an appointment. I just wanted this and my concerns documented. After a very lengthy discussing with a Nurse on call, it was decided she did not think it was an ER case but definitely should be seen as soon as possible with his pediatrician. Luckily, she had an opening at 1pm. Both Chad and I went with Cal up to see Kelly Hodgson-Kline. She immediately noticed he looked quite pale. Upon physical examination, she found Cal's liver was slightly enlarged. There were a few possibilities that included pneumonia, mono, etc. Cal was sent for an x-ray which ruled out pneumonia. Only blood work would be able to show whether he had mono or something else. When your pediatrician sends you to another hospital in order to get bloodwork back sooner than theirs can be done, you get the feeling she's just as concerned as we were.
Cal got his bloodwork done at Tomah Memorial. In the time it took for Chad to drop Cal and I off at the house then head down for what could be a very busy Friday Night Fish Fry and St. Patty's day. I received a call from the clinic, "Dr. Hodgson-Kline really needs to see you back at the clinic." The person on the other end refused to give details just that it would be better if we talked with Dr. Hodgson-Kline." When you can't get any info, you know things are worse than you thought. My first call was to Chad. Second to our Daycare provider where our youngest son, Deegan was, to see if he could stay a little longer while we raced to the clinic.
Cal's bloodwork showed his blood levels to be extremely low all across the board: Severely anemic. Mono can cause drops in blood levels but not to this extent. Even though the Dr. did not want to say Leukemia, she admitted it was the most likely cause. She had contacted specialists in at Gundersen Lutheran in La Crosse for a plan. They wanted Cal admitted for the night to receive blood and fluids, then undergo further treatment. As he was not in critical condition we were allowed to go at our own pace down to La Crosse and make whatever arrangements we needed.
We picked up Deegan, went home, packed a bag, and headed to La Crosse. Larry and Dianne Madson, Chad's parents, would meet us in La Crosse in order to take care of Deegan. Cal thought it was pretty cool, this unique very big hotel, where he got soo much attention. Larry and Dianne took Deegan back to our house in Tomah. Dr. Peters was the doctor on call when we arrived. She gave us some information concerning Luekemia but didn't go into much details because as of yet only symptoms pointed to this diagnosis but no confirmed results. The plan for the night was just to keep him on fluids and a single blood transfusion.
The night was uneventful. The staff was awesome and very surprised to see how well Cal was functioning with such low blood levels (apparently with levels as low as his even if they did gradually adjust to the levels, are not so active).
In the morning, more labs. Preliminary blood showed leukemic cells, but late afternoon confirmed leukemic cells. But without a few crucial tests, type and extent of it could not be said.
Luekemia. It's a cancer of the blood and it multiplies very rapidly. Two words same meaning and not one anyone wants to hear. This is the beginning of Cal's very long road ahead.