How do you explain to a three-year-old that they have cancer?
That was the unthinkable question Landon’s parents Rebecca and Jeremy were faced with a year ago when they learned that their little boy had leukemia. Normally a spunky, active toddler, Landon had suddenly become tired, pale, and lethargic. So his parents took him to the doctor for tests, which revealed the diagnosis.
“We were shocked,” said Rebecca. “It was like the world stopped and the room started spinning all at the same time. We felt sad and overwhelmed and really lost.”
While it’s been hard for Landon to understand why he has to go for the hospital for pokes, he hasn’t let it stop him from doing the things he loves, like building Legos, making crazy Play-Doh sculptures and playing pranks on his big sister Alyssa.
“He’s been a trooper through it all,” said Jeremy. “He’s an amazing kiddo.”
A new friend for Landon
As Landon began chemotherapy treatments, a social worker at the hospital connected the family to CCA. Soon after that, JoyRX Mentor Terri entered their lives, bringing support, friendship, and plenty of toys along with her.
“He started getting actually excited to go to his appointments, asking ‘Is Terri going to be there?’ every time we went,” Jeremy said.
“I like Terri. She goes with me to the doctor and we play Batman and Spiderman,” Landon chimed in.
Landon wasn’t the only one who benefitted from her presence. She also provided trusted companionship whenever Rebecca or Jeremy needed a break. “Sometimes you just need to step away for a minute, whether it’s to pick up a prescription or take a quick breather,” Rebecca explained. “It was so nice to know that Terri was there with Landon, and he’s so comfortable with her. We all adore her.”
Always there in spirit
When COVID hit, the in-person visits had to stop, but Terri and Landon’s friendship didn’t. Like any fidgety toddler, Landon sometimes has a hard time sitting still through live video calls, so the family has found that communicating with Terri through short video messages on the Marco Polo app is the way to go for now. And even though she can’t be with him in person, Landon is determined to include his pal Terri on all his adventures.
“When we go somewhere like the park or the beach, he always wants to show her the ducks or the water or whatever we’re doing. So we’ll record a video for Terri, and she always answers right back,” Rebecca smiled.
Early in 2022, Landon celebrated his last day of treatment. To commemorate the happy occasion and their two years of friendship, Teri surprised Landon with a bag full of goodies.
Discovering more JoyRx
The family is just starting to explore all the programs of joy that CCA has to offer—and so far, they’ve loved every minute of it.
“We’d never experienced the JoyRx music program until today, and it was so much fun singing along and playing the shakers with Landon,” Rebecca said. “We’re looking forward to doing more virtual music sessions in the future.”
“We also did CCA’s virtual Christmas event, which was great,” Jeremy added. “CCA is always finding new ways to include us and make Landon feel cared for.”
Living each day with gratitude
If there’s a silver lining to Landon’s journey, it’s that the experience has given the family newfound perspective and gratitude.
“It’s definitely made us look at life differently and brought us closer together as a family,” admitted Jeremy. “When your child is diagnosed with leukemia, you learn to make the most of every day and just hug and love each other no matter what.”
Rebecca says that gratitude extends to CCA as well.
“CCA has just been amazing for us,” she said. “I think everybody needs to experience having someone like CCA on their side when you’re going through a really hard time in life.”
You can help more kids like Landon experience the emotional benefits of JoyRx by making a donation today.