Alex was born Sunday, June 13, 2004 at 5:40 in the P.M. He was induced a little early so he could see his daddy before he left for Iraq on June 29, 2004. He was a happy baby and from all outward appearances a healthy one too.
On October 30th, 2004 the world we knew came to a screeching halt... I had just put Alex to bed and heard him gasping for air. After rushing to the Emergency Room at Methodist Willowbrook Hospital followed by several X-rays, the doctors saw a large mass on his right lung. Not knowing if it was pneumonia they decided to send him to Texas Children’s Hospital.
This was our first and hopefully only ambulance ride. We stayed at the hospital doing numerous tests discovering that Alex had a condition call Congenital Cystic Adenomatoid Malformation (CCAM) which would require surgery.
In the meantime we discovered that he had tested positive for Respiratory Syncytial Virus which would prolong the surgery to remove the CCAM mass on his right lung. We were discharged from the hospital on November 11, under strict orders to stay healthy and return on November 16, 2004 for surgery.
The surgery was performed by Dr. E. Dean McKenzie who discovered that the intrathoracic mass growing around his right lung was pressing on his main bronchusand was entangled in his brachial plex. Dr Jed Nuchteurn was called in for a consulation to confirm the possible diagnosis of Neuroblastoma, which required a biopsy of the mass.
After a biopsy of the tumor, a bone marrow aspiration, countless scans, MRI and other tests the diagnosis was confirmed. Alex was diagnosed with Stage IIB, N-MYC applified, Stoma Rich no Nodular Pattern, Poorly Differentiated Low Risk Neroblastoma on 11/17/04 at 5 months old. Hitting us upside the head with a brick would have felt better than hearing that news. Shocked, fearful, frustrated, powerless, these were just some of the feelings we felt and still do. Alex was put on Texas Children’s POC Protocol A3961 which included two rounds of chemotherapy, a tumor resection and a central line removal.
Today Alex shows no evidence of disease and has been this way since January 2005 when the tumor was resected. Alex is as normal as any other kid and enjoys life to the fullest. Although he no longer shows evidence of the disease, he will be monitored for the rest of his life.....so his journey continues. Although, he was too little to remember all of what he went through he is making a positive impact and has touched many people that have followed his story. I know he has taught our family many lessons of faith, life, love and happiness.
“Cancer is not infectious as a disease, but it does create a fear that permeates the daily lives of all those near and dear. We become very aware of our frailties, of our time here on earth, of our relationships with each other, and our responsibilities to these relationships.”
-Athena Black Alex’s Mother-
"God is our refuge and our strength an ever present help in times of trouble."