Laughter filled the room as children talked among themselves. They sat two to a mat on their classroom carpet. Theirs was a celebration of an unexpected party and sugar.
Another classmate remained content to drink his punch and eat his snacks while enjoying the fun. His was a celebration of health. A year of chemotherapy was three days behind him.
Gavin Wright received his life-changing diagnosis on Feb. 14, 2012. He was 4 years old when diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis.
LCH is a disorder in which an excess of certain white cells are produced.
“It is an auto immune deficiency,” said Gavin’s mother, Jennifer Wright. “The white cells try to fix areas which do not need help. They cluster into a cyst or a mass which can be found in your major organs like the skin, bones or liver.”
The disorder first showed itself in Gavin following a head injury. Jennifer said the fluids from the bump on his head were draining into his left eye. Gavin’s bones were being attacked by LCH. The disorder was evidenced in four parts of his body: his forehead, over his left eye, his left hip and in the growth plate of his left leg.
According to the National Cancer Institute, children diagnosed with LCH should be treated by a multidisciplinary team. Ideally, the team is made up of a primary care physician, pediatric surgical subspecialists, radiation oncologists, pediatric medical oncologists/hematologists, rehabilitation specialists, pediatric nurse specialists, social workers and others.
Statistics presented by NCI stated there is an estimated two to 10 cases per million children aged 15 years or younger.
This is a lot for an adult to handle, much less a child of 4.
“He is probably one of the strongest guys,” Jennifer said. “The doctor said he doesn’t let [LCH] get him down.”
A doctor suggested Gavin’s parents, place him in a preschool program. Jennifer and her husband, Jason Wright, enrolled him into Head Start’s program at Blythe-Bower Elementary school.
“The doctor said it would be good for him to get rid of all the built up energy and socialize,” Jennifer said.
Strict health rules governed Gavin’s involvement with Head Start. At the threat of chicken pox or strep throat he needed to be taken out of the class. Precautions were needed as chemotherapy decreased his white blood cell count.
Some days he was kept home if his white blood cell count dipped below 1,000.
“We had to be on the lookout to make sure he was not running a fever,” Jennifer said. “If he was running a fever, then we had to react pretty quickly.”
Continued Jennifer, “Luckily, he stayed pretty healthy, which is a blessing. We only had to go to the emergency room once and it was sinus related.”
The future is looking brighter for Gavin.
A scan is set for March 8.
“The spots were shrinking last time we went for a scan. The places were so small we had a good chance nothing extensive would be needed.”
Gavin’s heart port is set to be removed on March 18.
“He could not do contact sports before and he loves sports. He is like, all boy,” Jennifer said with a laugh. “We can’t let him play basketball with other kids, or baseball. We have to watch what he is doing because the port goes into one of the main arteries of his heart.”
Gavin just turned 5 years old. Next year, he will join some of his classmates in a Blythe-Bower Elementary kindergarten class.