It’s the kind of news no parent should ever hear.
Daniel and Robyn Wood’s 3-year-old son Jackson was diagnosed with Type B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on Nov. 28.
Just weeks ago, Jackson – a happy-go-lucky little boy with a constant smile on his face – was running around the house playing ball when he fell. He cried for a few minutes and then started limping. His limp disappeared so Daniel and Robyn no longer worried about it.
Then he fell on Nov. 10 as he went down the last step of the front porch. He cried and limped again. This time, he seemed to be uncomfortable during the night and did not sleep well.
On Nov. 11, they called Jackson’s pediatrician but no appointments were available. So the family took him to St. Louis Children’s Hospital where they spent the day in the ER.
Jackson received a full leg X-ray and hip ultrasound to check for broken bones or an infection. The results found neither.
The family returned home only to return to the hospital the next day after Jackson developed a fever. More tests and bloodwork were completed, along with another ultrasound of his hip. All tests were clear except for Jackson’s slightly elevated inflammatory markers. At this point, doctors suspected a possible virus.
The family was sent home once again and told to follow up with Jackson’s pediatrician if symptoms persisted.
The next week, the family monitored Jackson. His limp persisted, along with periodic fever.
After a Nov. 28 visit with Jackson’s pediatrician, he felt the 3-year-old had an enlarged spleen and other symptoms still persisted. At that point, the doctor thought a bone infection, autoimmune disease, or leukemia might be possibilities.
The family received a call that afternoon to take Jackson back to the hospital where Jackson was admitted to the general medicine floor for more tests and bloodwork.
By 9 p.m., the family had received a devastating preliminary result — it appeared Jackson had leukemia.
A bone marrow biopsy and more bloodwork were completed. Jackson was moved to the ninth floor.
“Now we are on a journey that no child should have to be on,” said Robyn.
Jackson has been receiving treatment at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. In barely more than a month, Jackson has already endured three spinal taps, two bone marrow biopsies, three platelet transfusions, two blood transfusions, and had a port inserted into his chest. He’s also experienced bouts with high blood pressure and has received chemotherapy.
“We are taking it day by day,” said Robyn. “We’re doing what we can to take care of our family and run our business. It’s hard but we are doing our best.”
Jackson recently finished the first phase of his treatment, called the induction phase. The goal of this round of treatment is to destroy as many cancer cells as possible in order to induce remission.
He begins the second round of treatment, called the consolidation phase, this week. This phase lasts 6 to 9 months. The third round, also called the maintenance phase, lasts one to two years.
In total, Jackson will undergo three years of treatment.
This means the Wood family will make countless trips to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for Jackson’s chemotherapy, doctor visits, and weekly lab work.
“Our older kids have been a huge help along with other family members helping where they can,” said Robyn. “We have amazing people who we have never met step up and help in many ways.”
From monetary donations and gifts for Jackson and his family to meals and prayers, the family has been overwhelmed with people’s generosity and kindness.
During Jackson’s 23-day hospital stay, people from all over sent cards and gifts to him. The family is grateful for all of the things Jackson has received so far because they brightened his days in the hospital and put a big smile on his face.
But Jackson doesn’t understand what’s happening to him right now because he’s so young.
“He goes from happy one minute to mad the next,” she said.
Although Jackson has a long road ahead of him, the family is cautiously optimistic he will beat this disease.
“We cannot begin to thank everyone for all they have been doing for him and our family,” she said. “The meals, messages, cards, gifts, and support have been amazing.”
Daniel and Robyn have eight children, including Morgan, 25; Pamela, 23; Ethan, 19; Tyler, 16; Michael, 15; Matthew, 13; Bryan, 11; and Jackson, 3. They also have two grandchildren, Weston, 18 months, and Lillian, 6 months.
Robyn was born in Farmington, and Daniel was raised in Madison County. Although they moved to Wentzville in 2015, they returned to Farmington in February to be closer to their family.
They started their family business, Woody & Sons Disposal, in February.
“We are building this business to pass down to our children,” said Daniel.
Daniel’s cousin Stephanie McMunn set up a Go Fund Me page to help ease the family’s financial burdens.
“Daniel and Robyn are hard-working and have tried to instill a strong work ethic in their children,” Stephanie wrote on the page. “Recently, Daniel and Robyn started a local business, Woody & Sons Disposal. However, they are still not in a profitable state, so Daniel has been working a second job to supplement their income. He’s honestly one of the hardest-working men I have ever met!”
Stephanie urged anyone who could help ease the family’s financial strain to do so.
“Even the best planning and saving didn’t prepare them for this,” she wrote. “Family is important to them, and they will make what sacrifices they can to be by Jackson’s side throughout every step of this journey.”
She said it is her hope that together people can help the Wood family during this challenging time.
The family has asked for prayers for Jackson and the many children who are experiencing serious health issues.
“Please pray for Jackson but also pray for all of the kids who have to fight not only leukemia but all of the other cancers that are out there,” said Robyn.
Pam Clifton is a contributing writer for the Daily Journal