5 YEARS CANCER FREE!
Welcome to Anthony Blanco Hero Story,
Some people never meet their hero; I however, gave birth to mine. It all started at my WIC appointment, the nurse performed a routine lead test on my 9 month old son, Anthony. The results came back within minutes, and I instantly saw the concerned look on the nurse’s face. She immediately informed me that she had never seen such low blood count before; therefore she wanted to run the test a few more times to make sure the results were accurate. After several test she advised me to make an appointment with his pediatrician, right away. I remember leaving the WIC office confused and scared thinking to myself, “what did she mean by low blood count?” I was terrified that something could be seriously wrong with my son.
The next day my husband and I took Anthony to the doctor, the doctor told us that because Anthony was fighting off a cold his blood count would appear lower than normal. Naturally, this seemed like a rational explanation. However, before leaving he told us to look out for any signs of usual bleeding or bruising because those were signs of poor circulation and we should take notice of that rather quickly. If that happened he advised us that we should seek further medical attention. The doctor was stern in telling us that we were to rush him to the ER if we noticed any of those signs. We monitored Anthony all weekend long and continued to treat his cold.
On Monday, February 27, 2012, once I arrived home from work my husband had informed that Anthony was not feeling well and that he refused to eat, drink or play. All he wanted to do was sleep, which to me seemed rather unusual for a 9-month-old. I walked over the crib to check on him and my body froze. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My stomach began to twist up in knots as I moved closer to him. I instantly noticed that he had bruises on the side of his face. I examined the rest of his body and found bruises on his stomach, back and inner thighs. My stomach was in knots at this point.
I had a million questions running through my mind. My husband face was full of confusion as he explained that he couldn’t understand how or where the bruises came from. We immediately got in the car and took Anthony to the ER. Once we arrived I told the nurse in triage and they admitted us right away, from that point on I knew this was more serious than just a simple cold. It was at that moment that I realized that his blood count must have something to do with why Anthony was bruising and was not healing properly. Immediately the doctors and the nurses started rushing us into a room. Everything was happening so quickly I had no idea what to think. After several test my husband and I were told that Anthony might have leukemia. Those were the most gut wrenching words I have heard in my life.
Anthony was 9 months old when he was diagnosed with Myelofibrosis. Myelofibrosis is rare form of cancer classified as a type of chronic leukemia that affects the bone marrow by replacing it with scar tissue. As a result the body is unable to make healthy blood cells. Anthony’s Oncologist and Hematologist were not familiar with his diagnosis since there were only 3 cases that had ever been reported at this hospital. Trying to find a treatment would take time, and time was running out for my little guy. Hours felt like days and days felt like years. Anthony showed great strength while the doctors tried different treatments; he demonstrated true bravery and courage as he received several blood and platelet transfusions and 2 bone marrow biopsies. Finally, doctors found a solution after about a year and half of treatment. When the doctors gave us the great news that he was CANCER FREE, it was one of the happiest days of my life. As a family we have created an unbreakable bond through this experience and since then Anthony has been able to live a normal life.
This year Anthony’s celebrates his 5th year cancer free! Anthony has a lovable personality and a captivating smile. He has shown great resilience and is currently enrolled in the Martial Arts program at the JCC where he has earned his green belt. Anthony’s curiosity is what I adore most about him and through his drawings, his imagination is limitless. Drawing is a real passion for Anthony. It is rare to find him without his sketchbook and color pencils. Anthony enjoys playing with his little brother and caring for his pet iguanas.
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