Age: 20 years old

As a mother, I never dreamed in a million years that one of my children would be diagnosed with cancer. On October 18th,2021, I heard those words no parent wants to hear, my youngest son had cancer.

On that day in October, Landon went for a check-up to see his doctor about an issue. The doctor first thought it might be from some medicine Landon was taking for PTSD from an accident when he was ten, but he said something was still telling him to do blood work. Landon had the blood work done, and we went home and went about our daily routine until about 7:30 p.m. when my phone rang, and the doctor asked to talk to Landon. When he hung up, I immediately asked him what the doctor said because I knew something was wrong when the doctor called at night. Landon said, ” Mom, he wants me to go to Mercy Health Hospital ER because he thinks I have cancer, and he wants the emergency room to do blood work and make sure it matches.” We took off to Mercy Hospital, and when we got there because Landon was 18, they told me I couldn’t go back with my son. The look that he gave me was begging me to stay with him. They sent me back outside as they took Landon back to a room. I knew I had to be with my son. I called my doctor and told her what was going on, and she called Mercy Health Hospital ER and told them to let me in. We weren’t in the room long when the ER doctor confirmed that Landon had leukemia. From the time they had taken Landon’s blood at the doctor’s office till they took it at the ER, which was about 3 hours, Landon’s blasts had grown from 51% to 72%, and uric acid was building up in his body. They started an IV antibiotic to get the uric acid down and told us they had a helicopter landing in 15 minutes to take him to Nashville, Tennessee. As Landon and I both sat there crying, I kept telling him that he was strong and not alone and that we would beat this.

Monroe Carrell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt determined that Landon had AML, Acute Myeloid Leukemia. They immediately started chemotherapy, and round 4 was the worst. I thought I was going to lose him. He took his chemotherapy, and we were waiting for his counts to come back up. Landon ended up getting a fever and was sick. They did a test and discovered he had a bacteria in his blood called Rothia. They started antibiotics, but Landon kept getting worse and was having trouble breathing. They couldn’t get his fever to go away either. The medical staff hooked him up to oxygen and a heart monitor. They did x-rays and ct scans and found glass-like opacities in his lungs. Landon’s lungs were covered, and he was in respiratory failure. At 2:00 a.m., they entered Landon’s room and rushed him to ICU.

We had to help him out of bed just to get changed. He could barely sit up. He had spots on his body and biopsies on his legs. He had to sleep with a bi-pap machine at night and oxygen during the day. The doctors were trying everything, and still, his lungs got worse. They took a sample of the glass-like opacities in his lungs and could not figure out what had caused them. The only thing the fever and Landon’s lungs would respond to was the steroids. So they left him on the steroids and winged him off little by little. As I watched Landon get better, I thanked God for answering my prayers and everyone else praying for him. Landon had his 19th birthday and was in the hospital for Christmas. He had so much to celebrate, though. This round, Landon spent 63 days in the hospital, too.

Landon recently celebrated his 20th birthday on May 2nd, 2023, and is in remission. Since he has been in remission for a year, he goes to the doctor every 4 months at a Survivorship Clinic in Nashville, Tennessee. He has a job at Wal- Mart and lives life to the fullest.

Written by Angie Surles, mother of Landon