Michael Rodriguez and his family were part of our June 2018 Kidd’s Kids Teen Trip! Our Teen Trip families stay at Give Kids The World Village in Orlando, FL where they stay for 6 nights and visit Disney World, Universal Orlando, and Sea World. Michael was diagnosed with ALL T-Cell Leukemia in October 2015. This is his story as told by his mother, April Rodriguez.
We found out on October 13, 2015 that our son Michael had ALL T-Cell Leukemia. He had been complaining about pain in his joints, eating but not finishing his food, fatigued, sleeping a lot, had a cough that just did not seem to go away. We did not think too much of it because he was 12yrs old. My husband and I are thinking, it is just a growth spurt. It was on October 9, 2015 that he violently threw up breaking blood vessels all on his face and inside his eyes. Than the entire left side of his face was drooping and his left eye just kept watering. We monitored him the entire weekend. That Monday on the 13th nothing had changed, We chose to take him to the ER at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Bedford, Tx. That is where they did bloodwork, did and x-ray on his chest (due to the cough he had) and did a CT Scan of his brain because of the Bell’s Palsy on his face. Surprisingly he was also running a temperature of 102.
As to Doctor entered the room from all the tests they did on Michael is when were shown the x-ray of his chest and the mass that was there. The mass on his chest measured 6cmx9cm. This is why we could not get rid of his cough. The doctor then looked at my husband and I and said the most unexpected news ever, our son had Lymphoma. In due to his bloodwork and all the other test it is what it looked like to him. Right away we were ambulanced to Cook Children’s in Fort Worth, Tx. When we arrived they began to run their own test and compared it from the other ER’s test. This is when we met Michael’s doctor for the first time and she would forever change our lives. This is when she confirmed what our son had and gave us his true diagnosis
Our lives went from being so active and traveling to being in a hospital and having to quarantine ourselves from everyone and everything we loved. Facetime, text messaging, Facebook, YouTube and the Food Network became our new way of living and enjoying this new lifestyle that was unexpected. All social platforms made a huge difference in our lives because it was the greatest way of staying connected to everyone even though we were not near each other physically. Eating cafeteria food (I am not going lie) is really good at the Cook Children’s cafeteria and having food brought to us daily was a huge blessing! We did not ever lack for anything. It is just not the same when you are able to sit at the table as a family and enjoy a nice cooked meal. My heart ached because I would have to see my daughter’s leave with tears in their eyes as we said goodbye for they could not stay with us. They missed their brother, mommy and daddy being home all under one roof. Everyday we would pray for a miracle because we did not know how long we would have to stay in the hospital. We were told it could be 30 days or more. In our minds we chose to think and speak differently. What we prayed for is what we would speak. No matter what negative thing we heard we knew God had a different plan. We chose to focus on life and remaining positive through it all as a family.
After much praying with my husband and the peace we had we chose to move forward with our son’s first set of treatments after his diagnosis. He was taken down to the operating room and had a pick line inserted into his right arm, a bone marrow done, his first methotrexate chemo injection into his spine and a dexamethasone steroid injection. This was just the first day. We were told their goal is to hit him hard with their protocol chemo treatment plan they use for every child who has the same diagnosis like our son. It was a 30-day goal. They have been successful at times but we had to be prepared mentally that it might not happen. So pretty much everyday our son would receive the same chemo treatment plan along with nausea medicine if needed. On day 4 our sons sugar level sky rocketed (medicinally induced) and he had to start receiving insulin shots on top of everything else. As a parent you just don’t want to ever add another medicine for the possibility of an allergic reaction that could happen. Then the question is what is the allergen. Thank the Lord we did not have to go face any type of allergy. On the night of day 7, our son Michael received a true miracle from God. He said that he was feeling nauseous and covered himself with the Tallit (a prayer shawl) and immediately he felt something go through his chest, down to his legs and come out of his feet. The next morning our son was taken down for an unexpected chest x-ray. What the doctor’s saw that morning in his blood work was that it was normal. Mind you when our son was first diagnosed his bloodwork was covered with Leukemia. After he came back into his room form the chest x-ray, shortly after our son’s doctor came in and told us the most amazing news. The mass that was on our son’s chest was completely gone. In just a matter of 8 days God had healed our son. In 9 days, we were able to go home from the hospital. We saw the miracle before our very eyes but my husband and I prayed and sought counseling as to how we wanted to move forward.
We chose to follow the treatment plan that his doctor set out before us for the next 3 ½ years. Medicine to take by mouth at home, going to the clinic to receive treatments and spinal injections, hospital overnight stays in due a 24hr chemo treatment of Methotrexate, an unexpected 3 week hospital stay that put him in ICU due to the chemo treatment given to him. It affected his heart. Receiving platelets and blood transfusions, etc. We only continued with the treatments because the leukemia hit him so fast unexpectedly. We wanted to make sure that we killed that root forever.
March of this year made it officially a year that our son has been off of all chemo treatments!!!
We attended the Kidd’s Kids Teen Trip in June of 2018. It is a memory that we hold very close to our hearts. It was a life long dream come true but yet a much-needed vacation as a family. We had faced so much and traveling was not even a thought in due to our son’s treatments and immune system.
When we were told in person that we were going, we were speechless and in complete shock. It is a day we still talk about in sharing it with others. There was a delay in our children response for they were still not fully awake when we heard the news. Once the news settled in it was excitement from that day on. They started counting down the days until we left for our trip. When we were told that we would not have to worry about a dime and that we would have everything taken care of for us, it is 100% true! It was a complete worry-free trip. Not once did we ever have to think about how much money we had to spend or what we were going to eat.
Meeting families who understand one another is a huge blessing. We created lifelong friendships. We have so many memories from our trip. I would say two stick out the most is when we met up with Caroline Kraddick at Magic Kingdom. Caroline just made us feel like family! Then who would not have the most fun with her because she is a radiant light of joy. You would think that she owned Disney World for she knew where everything was at that we wanted to visit. She also treated us to Dole Whips – it was absolutely delicious! Our daughters just love and adore her! She also spoiled our girls with their own Rose Gold Minnie Ears. Believe me they were not easy to find. Just to see the smiles on their faces as they put them on were priceless! We have tons of pictures from our day and our many moments with Caroline. She is a member of our family forever! One big lasting memory for us is when we watched the most amazing firework show they have at the princess castle in Magic Kingdom. As we were watching the firework show, I looked down at my girl’s and saw the look of awe on their faces. Their heartfelt prayers that were only a dream to me but to them as well came true. My dream became their reality and we were all there is Disney World sharing it together as a family with our healthy son, Michael.
Still to this day we share our story of our Disney World trip with Kidd’s Kids. In due to the impact they made on our lives we have inspired so many to bless the organization through supporting them in any way they can. We believe in paying it forward. Thank you, Kidd’s Kids, for the most unbelievable trip you blessed our family with! We are lives that were truly changed and our hearts are forever grateful!
Love, The Rodriguez Family