Christmas 2015 was the start of a terrible period for Caiden’s family.
“The day after Christmas, he started having weird joint pain,” said Caiden’s mom, Brandie. It began in his shoulders, then traveled to an elbow, an ankle, a knee. His parents took him to the emergency room and then consulted his pediatrician, an orthopedist and a pediatric rheumatologist, but no one could find the cause. Meanwhile, Caiden’s pain spread like wildfire.
Brandie, a physician’s assistant, realized her 3-year-old son’s pain was out of control. “He was crying all night. He was asking us if he was dying.”
Finally, at the end of March, a bone marrow biopsy showed Caiden had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Cancer wasn’t an answer they ever wanted, but now, with a referral to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Caiden’s family had a plan.
At St. Jude, Caiden began more than two years of chemotherapy. By his third day of treatment, he had improved enough to be pain-free. Today, Caiden’s cancer is in remission, but he has many more months of treatment to go.
Caiden, like all kids at St. Jude, is receiving this treatment at no cost to his family. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.
Caiden is “a teddy bear,” said his dad, Jeff. “He loves everybody and is hugely affectionate.” He’s also a chatty little guy who loves being outside and climbing anything and everything. When he arrived at St. Jude, he hadn’t walked in six weeks. Now, his parents have to hold him back from running.
“We’re seeing him come back,” said Brandie.