L.A.'s Letter - Christmas Wish 2023

Dear Mark, 

As a pediatric oncology nurse, I meet a lot of little warriors. Today I write to introduce you to my friend, Latarian. You can call him "L.A." for short! He is one of the cutest little warriors I have ever met! Latarian is 10 months old and has had a year more difficult than many of us will ever face. This past June, his mom realized that something “just wasn't right.” Her baby, usually full of energy, smiling, and doing anything to keep up with his five older siblings, wanted to nap all day and had no interest playing with even his favorite toy. What doctors first believed to be an ear infection was found to be infantile Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). This was discovered after countless labs, pokes, and an airflight to the Children's Hospital of Savannah. Latarian and his family have been told to expect about two years of treatment to make sure his body is all clear of leukemia. He has already received many different chemotherapy drugs and a 28-day continuous infusion of an immunotherapy drug.  

He has only been home for 12 days since diagnosis in June, but his family’s love and support has been ever present. His mother, Latreace, has not left his side and two of his older siblings, Zoey (6) and Gevon (14), also live in the hospital room with Latarian. Zoey has even transferred to a Savannah area school to continue her education. Meanwhile, back at home are his two older brothers, Romello (17) and Gavin (15), and his oldest sister, Cornesha (20). Though they are not able to be at the hospital together all the time, the family unit is strong, and they are all cheering on LA with a positive attitude wherever they might be. I have never walked into their hospital room and not been greeted with a smile.

Latarian has surely picked up on his family’s attitude. He has the biggest grin with the cutest little teeth! He is very easy-going, observant, and is always happy. When you are undergoing cancer treatment, there are some unpleasant things that must be done, such as weekly dressing changes. This is a sterile procedure that requires the removal and replacement of the bandage on top of his central line. LA even handles these with grace and smiles. He is extremely active and loves anything that is on wheels! He loves being in his walker, escaping his room, and running down the hallway to play with all his nurse friends. He has taken his first steps in the hospital, and we all think he will be running without the walker by Christmas.

Christmas is going to be different for Latarian and his family this year, but thanks to you and your generous listeners, I know it will still be a special one. Mrs. Latreace was hesitant to give me Christmas ideas for her family, but after some coaxing she was able to provide me some ideas to share with you all. LA would have so much fun with a ride-on car that he could either drive or it be controlled with a parental remote. Additionally, he is learning to talk and is in need of toys that could promote his speech development and would have so much fun with a tablet he could play learning games on. Romello, Gavin, and Gevon love to play on their PlayStation and Xbox and would enjoy games such as Call of Duty, Mortal Combat, GTA, or Madden. Zoey is very bubbly, outgoing, and cherishes time playing with friends and family. She enjoys any type of game or puzzle and also desires to ride an electric scooter. Cornesha loves fashion and usually purchases her clothes at Target or Shien. Mrs. Latreace said she needs an air fryer, deep fryer, and cooking utensils. After a little more pushing for an idea of something she would enjoy, not just need, she admitted she would love to have her nails done and receive a massage. I know gift cards to Walmart, Target, KFC, or for gas would also be such a blessing to this sweet family.

I asked Mrs. Latreace if there was anything she wanted to say in this letter, and she wanted to ask for prayers. As a family, they value faith, love, and trust in God. She asks that you join alongside her in praying that Latarian is cured within two years and he does not suffer from any of the harsh side effects chemotherapy can cause.

I cannot express the immense gratitude I have for you and the listeners of 98.7. Each year, you bring such joy and light to our oncology patients and their families during the Christmas season. It really means everything to see these kids smile. Thank you again, and Merry Christmas!

Anna Quercia, RN

Pediatric Oncology Nurse

Memorial Health

Dwaine & Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah


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