Family taking care of family

Paige Stewart

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When her 7-year-old daughter Paige started feeling poorly in May 2008, Jill Lord didn’t think too much about it. But when the flu-like symptoms persisted for a few more weeks, she was worried.

“One night Paige was awake all night complaining about pains in her legs. I called her doctor in Piqua the next morning. He ordered blood work “stat” and after seeing the results told us to go straight to Dayton Children’s emergency department,” Jill recalls.

“The doctor in the ER told us Paige had cancer,” she says. While much of that Friday evening is a blur, Jill remembers one of Dayton Children’s hematology/oncology specialists talking to her about the type of cancer Paige had—acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a cancer affecting the white blood cells.

According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, ALL is the most common type of cancer in children ages 1-7 years old. Nationally, the five-year survival rate for this cancer is more than 80 percent. At Dayton Children’s, that rate is even higher—just over 90 percent.

Even when the prognosis is favorable as in Paige’s situation, a child’s cancer diagnosis is one every parent fears.

“I was devastated…I couldn’t believe it when they told me Paige had cancer. You just don’t think something like that can happen to your child. I would have taken her place in a heartbeat,” Jill says. “It took me a couple of days to digest this news, but after that it was ‘OK, we’re ready to go fight this.’”

James French, MD, one of Dayton Children’s board-certified hematology/oncology specialists, has been in Paige’s doctor since her diagnosis.  He oversaw her initial treatment and is responsible for her ongoing care. Paige and her family are fortunate world-class care was close to home:  Dayton Children’s Comprehensive Care Center of Cancer and Blood Disorders is one of just 11 pediatric programs in the country approved by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.

Our cancer care team includes three other board-certified physicians, a nurse coordinator and other specialists as needed to provide individualized cancer care to every child.

“All the people we have met at Dayton Children’s are wonderful. Paige immediately connected with Dr. French who is as silly as she is, plus he talks to her on her level.  Our whole family loves him as well. He has always been very patient with us, answering all our questions,” Jill says.

Paige’s treatment lasted just over two years. After her diagnosis in May 2008, she came to Dayton Children’s at least once a month for an exam and chemotherapy administered through a port in her chest, but also took dozens of pills at home between visits. Although Paige’s cancer was in remission four weeks after starting treatment, our doctors follow nationally approved protocols for this type of cancer, and maintenance chemotherapy continued for two years to keep her in remission. Her treatments ended in July 2010. Today, she returns to the hospital monthly for blood work and a follow-up exam.

“Paige has done very well,” Dr. French says. “Her family has been a great source of strength and support for her.”

Dayton Children’s Comprehensive Care Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders is a member of the national Children’s Oncology Group. Together we share the latest protocols, research and clinical trials so a child with cancer in the Dayton area gets the same specialized care he or she would receive at any other top cancer center in the country.

Paige is now in fifth grade at Wilder Intermediate School in Piqua. She enjoys reading books of all kinds, helping her mom cook meals, playing with friends and being with her brother Jacob, 13, and sister Madelyn, 8. Paige’s care team at Dayton Children’s is as thrilled as her family to see her today. After all, returning a child to health and to the normal activities of childhood are the goals of treatment for every child coming to Dayton Children’s.

 “Being cared for at Dayton Children’s was like family taking care of family,” Jill says. “We got excellent care from a wonderful staff.”

The Comprehensive Care Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Dayton Children’s provides state-of-the-art services in oncology and hematology. For more information on our services, and to learn about our pediatric cancer treatment visit our Children's Care Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

Paige and mom

 

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