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December 2012 Patient of the Month

Dawson is a comedian in training. He’s the middle child and loves to make his family laugh. He tells knock-knock jokes and likes Jim Carrey. But in April 2011, things turned serious for Dawson and his family.

Dawson was an active child who liked to hike with his parents and siblings. But one day, he said he was too tired to join the others. Within days, he developed a fever he couldn’t shake. Soon his abdomen and lymph nodes swelled. Blood work at the doctor revealed an abnormality. Hours later, Dawson’s family learned he suffered from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer.

“My life crashed down upon me,” said Dawson’s mother.

Dawson traveled by ambulance to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As he settled into the hospital, his doctor made a special trip on his day off to explain Dawson’s treatment to his family. “The moment I met his doctor, I felt confident that Dawson was going to beat this,” Dawson’s mom said.

Dawson began a St. Jude protocol of phased chemotherapy that will last two-and-a-half years. His cancer was soon in remission.

“I decided we would try to make our time at St. Jude like an adventure,” Dawson’s mom said. “We would be happy and find the happiness every day. It feels strange to tell you that we’ve had a wonderful time at St. Jude, but that’s the truth. Dawson is happy here.”

Dawson has a year left of treatment. He’s able to receive much of it at the St. Jude affiliate near his family’s home. He’s in first grade and very outgoing and bright. Dawson likes playing video games and riding his bike. And he likes to try out jokes.

“Why didn’t the chicken jump off the diving board?” he asks. A moment later, in a fit of laughter, he supplies the answer: “Because he’s too chicken!”

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