Leukemia.  The word still makes me lose my breath. A single word that changed our lives forever. Stephen was 4 years old last fall when a relentless fever ravaged his little body. After 9 days, tests showed that he only had 1/3 of the blood he needed to survive. We frantically went to Hasbro Children’s Hospital where we met Dr. Peter Manley in the ER. His name tag read

Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.  I immediately explained, almost pleading, that this doctor was in the wrong room. We did not need oncology. This was not cancer. This could not possibly be happening to our son.
The very next day, every parent’s worst nightmare became our reality.  On October 27, 2005, Stephen was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a date that will forever represent devastation and strength for us. We fell apart, we put ourselves back together, and we began the most difficult and powerful fight of our lives....saving Stephen.
Information flowed like a river, and to our surprise, Leukemia was a very treatable and curable cancer. We were advised that the goal was to have Stephen in remission in 29 days with three years of chemotherapy treatments to follow. Treatment began immediately with surgery to place a port in his chest, blood transfusions, spinal taps, injections and chemotherapy drugs that were extremely intense and carried possible side effects as damaging as the cancer itself.
We spent several weeks in the hospital consumed with uncertainty. How were we going to get through the next three years of treatment? Expenses were accumulating quickly and my husband and I were both on unpaid leave form work to care for our family.
In the midst of this turmoil, we were handed books full of information, as well as emotional support and financial support to help with the overwhelming expenses. Once we were able to sort through the chaos and question where this help was coming from, we learned about The Tomorrow Fund – an organization that we knew nothing about, but were soon to be tremendously grateful for.
The Tomorrow Fund is the only local, non-profit organization that provides daily emotional and financial support to children with cancer and their families.
We are now one year into our 3-year treatment routine and we are fortunate that Stephen’s prognosis is excellent. The Tomorrow Fund Clinic has become a second home for us and the people who make The Tomorrow Fund what it is have become members of our extended family. This is a battle that we are going to win and behind us is the support of The Tomorrow Fund.
Update on Stephen—Four Years Later
Four years ago today (October 27, 2009) Stephen was admitted into Hasbro Children's Hospital and tomorrow will mark his 4-year "Crapiversary"...(10/27/05) the day he was diagnosed with cancer, the day that has ultimately changed our lives forever in so many ways. I won't go on and on about it because at this point you all know our story and you all know how we have fought our way through the years of pain and all know the obstacles we faced and how at times we felt defeated....and it's because of all of you who have supported us that we found the strength to keep fighting.
Tomorrow will forever be a day that makes my heart ache....but tomorrow I will wake up and thank God for my family being whole....for my babies being healthy and strong, for my husband who has kept this family going through times when it didn't seem possible to function...for our parents, sisters, cousins, family, friends, neighbors, Care Page families, cancer moms and dads and kids, The Tomorrow Fund, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, our doctors, nurses, schools,and have all understood what our lives had become and you stood by us and helped us. No matter what we needed and still may need....thank you.
Another month has come and gone and Stephen is doing very well in all aspects of his life. On the medical front, his blood counts are continuing to be normal, he is feeling great and we have had our monthly clinic visits with great reports. He is doing well in school, his social life is more exciting than mine and he has competed in his first triathlon.
I will keep you all updated on the happenings around here...Please keep Stephen, and all our friends, little and big, who are battling cancer in your prayers.
Nina & Stephen Unsworth
Parents of a Cancer Survivor