I am writing on behalf of a dynamically determined “all boy, all the time” sweet soul named Clayton. In July of this year, then 14-month old Clayton started experiencing intense abdominal pain which led his family to bring him to Memorial University Medical Center’s emergency department. In the ED, this entire family’s world forever changed as they learned in all likelihood sweet Clayton had cancer. He was immediately admitted to the Dwaine & Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah at Memorial and a full medical work-up disclosed he was dealing with rhabdomyosarcoma of his bladder. His parents never in a million years imagined their son would be in for the fight of his life. Clayton’s therapy consists of 43 weeks of chemotherapy and intensive radiation therapy.
Clayton is affectionately known as the “Mayor” of our clinic. His frequent chemotherapy visits, sometimes 5 days a week, find him making rounds door-to-door, greeting all of our other patients. As a now 18-month-old, his vocabulary hasn’t fully developed, but this cutie with his beautiful blue eyes communicates by pointing his finger to fuss at you and flashes you the biggest cheesy smile when things are going well. He is such a joy to work with and truly makes everyone’s day a little better with his presence. His parents are completely devoted to the care of their son and make many sacrifices to attend each and every visit as a family. Since July, they have been on a whirlwind of juggling medical appointments, chemotherapy, learning to administer shots to their son at home, working when able, and managing care for their other son, Colsen, age 4. Life has certainly had its ups and downs, but they are ever grateful for the care Clayton has received and the strides he has made.
The location of Clayton’s tumor made radiation therapy very unique. In order for Clayton to avoid many long-term complications, he and his family had to move up to Boston for 6 weeks to receive a specialized form of radiation. All of November was spent living in a city isolated from family, friends, and the comfort of their own home to get the treatment which will provide the least amount of damage to Clayton’s body. His parents, Janie and Dustin, knew that staying together as a family meant more than anything in the world, so they made necessary sacrifices to make it work. Already in their young family life, they have learned that the best things in life aren’t actually “things” -- it’s people and being together that matter the most. Both parents have been supported incredibly through their workplaces, allowing them a chance to make the most of the circumstances at hand. Their souls are growing very weary as they are at the halfway mark of Clayton’s treatment, but the support of the community and seeing him continue to flourish keep them moving forward.
Clayton’s hard-working family is ever so grateful for the offering of support from your listeners – honestly, it took some coaxing to get them to allow this opportunity. Prior to cancer, this family was used to supporting itself with much more income. His mother has only been able to work a little here or there due to his chemotherapy schedule and travels to Boston. Gas cards would be tremendously helpful as they spend a lot of time traveling for treatment and this has weighed heavily on their budget. Also appreciated would be gift cards to Wal-Mart, Target, or grocery stores to help with food and household expenses. We encourage this family to escape from the medical world and go take time for themselves – a dinner out to Pearl’s Saltwater Grille (their favorite!) or a Mexican restaurant would be such a nice treat!
Clayton is a good ol’ country boy, loving tractors, trucks, and all things about being a rough-and-tumble boy. A trip to Bass Pro Shops with his brother and Dad is a fun time for sure! His family would love to get him a kitchen play set as he likes playing with the one at the hospital. A yummy meal at Chick-fil A is also a favorite of his. Hands down, though, the most comfortable thing in the world is spending time with his family and helping drive a tractor.
Colsen, Clayton’s 4-year-old brother, also has been affected by this diagnosis. Colsen has missed out tremendously on the comfort of having his family always around. While his family has done an amazing job of helping take care of him, he lost many nights of having everyone together. Colsen has developed a love for musical instruments and his family hopes to help him experience and learn more about his new passion. They welcome instruments, keyboards, or ALL things musical in his life to help create a nice outlet for him during his brother’s treatment.
His family is forever humbled by the support and love they have felt during Clayton’s diagnosis from the community. They look forward to the day where they can pay it forward to others and help lessen someone else’s hardships.
I cannot thank the listeners and 98.7 The River enough! From the very bottom of my heart, THANK YOU! We can never repay your many kindnesses, but they are felt ever so much in the homes of some amazing families.
Pediatric Oncology Nurse Navigator
The Dwaine & Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah
at Memorial University Medical Center
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