Did you know that every two minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer? We want to change that, so we’re helping to raise money to help find cures during the month of September. We will be sharing true and inspiring stories from children in our community in honor of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
This is Colton’s Story:
Colton Miller came into this world three weeks early but he was strong and healthy at a little over 7 pounds on June 22nd, 2012. He was determined and a fighter then and still is today. He changed my life then and continues to do so every day.
Our journey began when Colton started dealing with constipation for the first time in his life the beginning of June 2018. I took him to the doctor’s office and he ended up getting an x-ray that showed there was a blockage and we began treating for constipation. After a couple of weeks of different treatments and methods, nothing seemed to help. Colton was progressively in more pain and now was having trouble breathing so I knew something else had to be going on. He had just celebrated his 6th birthday over the weekend and was not even really able to enjoy his party. We headed back to the doctor. When the Nurse Practitioner listened to his lungs she could not hear any breath sounds on his left side. We were told we needed to go to a specialty children’s hospital immediately and we chose Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital.
Once in the ER, they took blood, ran tests and took an x-ray. The x-ray revealed a mass on his lungs that was so large he was only functioning on half of one lung and his heart had been pushed over and was not functioning properly. While still in the ER, we were given the diagnosis that Colton had cancer. On June 25, 2018 we heard the one word you never are prepared to hear, especially when it is your child. I looked at my little boy who was so brave and strong and I just held his hand while we listened to the doctor. Shortly after Colton had a liter and half of fluid drained from his lungs and he started to breathe a little better. They also began giving him chemo immediately as well. We spent 11 long days in the Pediatric ICU, while they ran tons of tests and scans. Colton was eventually diagnosed with T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. This began our new journey of clinic visits, hospital stays, blood draws, chemo treatments, swallowing pills and lots of new changes.
Over the last 14 months, Colton has gone under anesthetic more than 30 times for lumbar chemo treatments, tests and surgeries. He has had over 90 chemo treatments, 8 blood transfusions and numerous stays overnight in the hospital. Colton will continue to have treatment until October 2020.
To say our lives have changed would be an understatement. Cancer changes everything. It gives you a whole new perspective on life and what is really important. As a parent, you feel so many emotions: shock, fear, denial, sadness, anger, guilt and many more. For me, I felt all of those but I mostly felt helplessness. Colton’s whole world changed and he adjusted with it because there was no other choice. But he did have a choice in how he dealt with it. He has handled everything remarkably well and with an amazing attitude. He rarely complains about anything, which is pretty amazing considering all of the side effects and changes he has had to deal with. Colton never lost his outgoing, funny and energetic personality. He has smiled through it all.
For me, life changed drastically but I looked at the positive because for a year I got to be the stay-at-home mom that I had always wanted to be. However, for someone who had lived most of her life on a very organized schedule, this was a hard adjustment. I took on many new roles; teacher, nurse, counselor, full-time caregiver and trying to work from home. Finding a new normal that worked and learning that you can’t control everything is one of the most important lessons to learn.
We have learned and continue to learn a lot on our journey with childhood cancer. With Colton, just being honest with him and telling him everything and allowing him to ask questions was important. He wanted to know and understand what was going on with his body and why he couldn’t go to school and see his friends. Honest communication is the key. Children understand more than you realize. As parents, we want to try to do it all on our own and be strong for our children. You don’t have to be; you have to learn to ask for help or allow others to help you. This was a hard pill for me to swallow but once I allowed others to help I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders and I could focus more attention on Colton. Finding a support system goes right along with allowing others to help. Find a support system, it is crucial. You need a place to be able to express all the feelings that you have and allow others to comfort you. My family and friends were the most amazing support system for us. We are very blessed and could not continue to get through this journey without them. Lastly, find some normalcy. Whatever that may be, this is not an easy journey but finding your new normal will help.
Colton and I have both become so much stronger through this journey. I will end with this quote because it truly captures Colton. “Real superheroes live in the hearts of small children fighting big battles.”
Hancock Pediatrics is helping to raise money for childhood cancer research during the month of September through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Please click here to make a donation, as our goal is to raise $2,500! #KidsAreGold
Story provided by: Christie Miller