Palmer is a happy and healthy (almost) 9 year old boy. But just under 2 years ago, Palmer was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lymphoma.
The story of Palmer’s cancer diagnosis is one that started out like a rite of passage for many children - we thought he had appendicitis. He had what we assumed was a stomach bug on December 2, 2020. Like any “stomach bug,” Palmer slowly got over it and was back to normal by December 5th. On Sunday, December 6th, Palmer woke up very sick and unable to stand without pain. We called our pediatrician after hours and they advised taking Palmer to the ER to rule out appendicitis. After performing an ultrasound, appendicitis was determined to be the most likely cause and Palmer was transported to Hemby Children’s Hospital via ambulance for an appendectomy with Dr. Cosper. By the time we got to Hemby, Palmer’s pain had subsided some and he could stand and was making jokes. We knew it was possible that Palmer may not actually have appendicitis at this point but ultimately made the decision to move forward with surgery after weighing pros and cons. Being a Sunday night, I (Brittany, mom) found myself alone in the dark surgical waiting room expecting my husband to arrive to take us all home after Palmer’s surgery. However, before my husband arrived, Dr. Cosper came out to update me and stated that there were suspicious lymph nodes in Palmer’s abdomen. He had called in the pathologist from home, on a Sunday night. That is never a good sign. A short time later, Dr. Cosper returned and informed us that these abnormal lymph nodes were “consistent with malignancy” and Palmer was going to be admitted for evaluation and referred to oncology. The whirlwind started right then and there with a chaplain and a call with pediatric oncologist, Dr. McDaniel. Dr. McManaman was in the next day to start the process of diagnosis and staging. There was no waiting. The next several days involved so many tests, procedures, scans, a central line placement and ultimately, we were given the official diagnosis of Stage 3b Burkitts Lymphoma. Prior to this diagnosis, I had never even heard of this form of lymphoma. But we learned it is extremely aggressive and must be treated quickly. Palmer spent the next 15 days in the hospital, making it home just before Christmas.
Palmer’s cancer responded well after the induction phase of chemo and there was “night & day difference” from the diagnostic PET scan to the next PET scan. The chemo was working but it made Palmer very, very sick. He was pitiful and it was heart wrenching to see him so sick and in so much pain and not be able to take it from him. The next 2 rounds of chemo got progressively harder for Palmer. Each round of chemo required a full week’s admission to the hospital because of how aggressive the treatment was and how severe the side effects were. But even after we completed a round, the lingering side effects from the chemo led to frequent unplanned admissions for fever, uncontrolled nausea/vomiting, severe headaches and pain. Those were the longest days and weeks of our life. We once got home from an unplanned hospital stay for uncontrolled vomiting and within 4 hours, Palmer spiked a fever and had to be readmitted that same night. Because of the pandemic, Palmer’s older brother, Cameron, was not able to visit him in the hospital. With most stays being open ended in length, the boys had a very hard time leaving each other. I will never forget the night he was readmitted a few hours after getting home – Palmer begged me, crying, to please let him stay one night at home with his brother. He promised he would go back in the morning if I could just let him stay one night with Cameron. I can still cry thinking about it. What a traumatic experience for both of them.
The last 2 rounds of chemo went better for Palmer. While he was pretty sick during the hospital stay, he was able to avoid any readmissions from side effects. When he was finishing the last round of chemo, he said goodbye to many nurses and friends that we came to know and love at the hospital. No one prepares you for that. You get to know these people; they walk you through the darkest days of your life. They are so compassionate and kind and loving and bend over backward to save your life. And then, they do, and you never get to see them again. That was really hard for Palmer (and for us). These people became our family. We saw them more than we saw anyone else during those four months. And while saying goodbye meant that Palmer’s treatment had been successful, it was still bittersweet knowing we would likely not get to see our ‘friends’ again.
Palmer specifically wanted Dr. Cosper to take his central line out since he was the one who placed it after also having found the cancer. We waited a little extra in order to get on Dr. Cosper’s schedule and that day felt like a full circle moment. From our worst day to our best, Hemby took excellent care of Palmer (and us). We are so thankful for Dr. Cosper’s diligence in finding the cancer and not delaying intervention by a single moment. We had the very best team of doctors, nurses, and support staff during our experience.
Palmer has been in remission for 18 months now. He is back to school, back to soccer, back to being a kid. He is happy, healthy, and whole. And we’ve never been more grateful.
100% Polyester Microfiber Buff
Seamless, Soft and Breathable with a Raw Edge Hemline
Approximately 10" W X 20" L
2-way lateral stretch in Width
One Size Fits Most
Can be worn as: Head Scarf, Scrunchie, Headband, Ear Warmer, Face Covering, Turban, and Neck Gaiter.
Machine Wash Cold on Delicate Cycle, Lay Flat to Dry