Diagnosis: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
Diagnosis Date: December 17, 2013
In June of 2013, Garrett Howe was admitted to Bronson Children’s Hospital with alarming symptoms. Within 48 hours, he had gone from a seemingly healthy, almost 2 year-old, to uncontrollable vomiting and high fever. The lymph nodes in his neck were rapidly enlarging. Blood work revealed he was neutropenic, meaning his immune system was extremely compromised. Garrett was in the hospital for more than a month, with numerous tests ran. He had two surgeries to drain the abscessed lymph nodes and remove necrotic tissue in his neck. A bone marrow test was done. Garrett’s parents, Colin and Farrell, were relieved to hear he did not test positive for Leukemia, their worst fear.
After six weeks in the hospital, and countless blood tests conducted over the following four months, a cause for Garrett’s sudden extreme illness was never determined. In December, during a routine blood check at his pediatrician, it was found that Garrett was anemic and wasn’t responding to an antibiotic prescribed for an ear infection. As a precaution, his parents brought him back to Bronson Children’s Hospital for overnight observation and additional blood tests. On Tuesday, December 17th, Colin and Farrell Howe received the devastating news that Garrett tested positive for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He immediately began chemotherapy treatments to start battling this extremely aggressive disease.
Today, Garrett has successfully completed nine months of intense cancer treatment and is now in maintenance, which he will be in for the next three years. Maintenance means he will take an oral chemo twice per day and steroids for five days every month. He also will visit his doctor monthly for blood checks and additional chemotherapy treatments.
After a year of being mostly isolated in his home or a hospital, away from his friends at daycare and missing out on so many things that are typical for toddlers, Garrett and his parents are looking forward to his return to a more normal childhood. Colin and Farrell Howe hope treatment will continue to work for Garrett and he can be considered cured by his 11th birthday.