age 3, germ cell tumor
Back in December, Easton’s parents were preparing for Christmas with both their children — and it felt like nothing short of a miracle.
When Easton was born, his parents noticed a little lump near his tailbone. Every time they asked the pediatrician about it, they were assured it was nothing. But as Easton grew, he developed a series of symptoms that surely pointed to something.
“We just kept pushing for a different opinion every time until finally one of our local hospitals said he had pneumonia and scheduled a scan for the next day,” said his dad, Cody. “It wasn’t pneumonia. It was tumors in the lungs.”
Fifteen-month-old Easton had metastatic cancer, originating in a 9.5-centimeter tumor in his pelvis called a malignant teratoma. The only outward sign was that little lump near his tailbone.
“You never expect it to be yours,” said Cody. “I’d heard horror stories of children getting cancer, but when it became a reality, it took everything from us. Hopeless — we felt just completely hopeless.”
But St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases, and it wasn’t long after their referral that Easton’s parents regained some hope.
At St. Jude, Easton endured chemotherapy and several surgeries, including a resection of the tumors in his lungs and pelvis and removal of his tailbone to lessen the chance of recurrence. And the little boy was resilient. In the middle of it all, he surprised and delighted his mom and dad by taking his first steps in more than four months.
We were finishing up a chemo treatment in the hospital, and he was hooked to all his IVs playing on the floor when he stood up and decided he was going to walk across the room! It was better than his first steps, honestly, because we were so worried it may never happen again.
In September 2017, Easton went home cancer-free.
But after a short time, he suffered a seizure, and scans showed the cancer had reappeared — this time in Easton’s brain. His parents were perhaps more terrified than ever. But St. Jude was at the ready.
On Dec. 20, 2017, Easton underwent his second brain surgery. The next day, his mom, Kahlee, delivered his first sibling, a baby brother, at a nearby hospital.
The family was able to spend Christmas together in St. Jude housing. Despite the hectic circumstances, Kahlee calls it, “the perfect Christmas.”
Not only were they all together for the first time, but St. Jude also made sure there were gifts for Easton. “It was more than we could have done for him at home,” Kahlee said. “It was wonderful.”
“It is a very tight knit community at St. Jude,” said Cody. “It’s a second family.”
After the holidays, Easton faced more treatment. In January he received radiation therapy, and in March and April, bone marrow transplants. Then he went home, again cancer free.
"It was the worst time of our lives," said Kahlee.
The family took Easton home and lived with him as joyously as possible, taking family trips together and making the most of every moment.
But rather than getting sicker, as expected, Easton continued to act like a healthy child. Then, in October, Easton’s scans shocked everyone: the tumor was gone. His parents call it “Easton’s miracle.”
Today, Easton is full of energy. He loves to be outside, is a budding football fan and is wild about Mickey Mouse.
He and his little brother are inseparable and look just alike.
“It’s like we had twins 2 years apart!” said Kahlee. And despite all he went through at St. Jude, Easton loves returning for checkups. He literally still calls St Jude “home.”
I feel like if we would’ve been anywhere else, and this is just my opinion, but we may be in a different situation than we are now. This place is saving children every day. This place makes miracles happen every day.
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