Like any baby, little Beckett of Swift Current spent his first year of life learning to laugh, crawl and babble. What made his first year different from most, however, was a devastating diagnosis of Infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at only two months old.
“It was a Monday. I was alone in the pediatrician’s clinic with Beckett for what I thought was a rash on his legs and face,” recalls Beckett’s mom Kelley. “With no bloodwork, the doctor told me that Beckett had Leukemia. He told us that we need to go to Saskatoon immediately.”
Beckett’s dad Britt rushed to the doctor’s office to meet Kelley and Beckett before the family of three fled home as fast as they could. They dumped drawers into suitcases and were out the door within minutes. They had a sleepless night in the emergency room in Saskatoon waiting for bloodwork results that confirmed the worst. Beckett spent nearly a week in hospital before being transferred to a children’s hospital in Toronto for nine months of treatment.
“The most frightening part was the statistics,” said Kelley. “Was Beckett going to make it to his first birthday? Are we going to see him graduate high school? College? Get married? It was the most awful and scary time of our lives.”
How such a harsh disease could affect such a tiny baby was difficult for Beckett’s parents to understand. With 189 days in hospital, 287 doses of intense chemotherapy, 4 access lines, 15 surgeries, 28 tests and scans, 31 blood transfusions, 9 feeding tubes and 133 blood draws, Beckett’s first year was a whirlwind. Chemotherapy hit his little body very hard, but his team of doctors and nurses did an exceptional job of giving Beckett the best chance for a future.
Nine months after the diagnosis that flipped their world upside down, Beckett’s family was finally discharged from hospital. Upon arriving home, Beckett was immobile and required a feeding tube. He didn’t know how to play with toys or interact with the world around him, and he still required maintenance therapy which included a daily chemotherapy drug.
Slowly but surely, Beckett began to hit his development milestones. He now runs around like an active toddler, but still needs weekly speech therapy and daily chemotherapy. Because his immune system is weak, he doesn’t get much interaction with other kids, but Beckett is on his way to beating the disease once and for all.
Beckett and his family applied for the Air Canada Hospital Transportation Program, which covers the cost of round trip airfare for one child under 18 years old and one accompanying adult. The program, in partnership with Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation, provides Aeroplan Miles to pediatric patients in need of advanced medical treatment not available in our community. Since 2003, the program has donated millions of Aeroplan Miles to pediatric hospitals and foundations across Canada, alleviating travel costs for families and offering financial peace of mind.
“Today Beckett is an extremely happy little boy,” said Kelley. “He is full of personality and love, and does not even know he is sick.”