"A Little Bit Good"
Five-year-old Drake Williams lies back in his mother’s lap and puts his hands back above his head. She gently holds them as nurse Jessica Mullin prepares a syringe. She prepares to access the plastic port that was surgically placed just beneath the skin in Drake’s chest when he began his leukemia treatment at age three.
“Tell me when,” Drake reminds his nurse from behind his yellow mask. “Ready?” she asks him. “Yeah,” he says, continuing the countdown. “Set…go!” Drake squeezes his eyes shut and tenses his arms against his mother’s hands. In less than a second, it’s over. No tears are shed. “Good job, you did it!” Jessica praises him. ”Awesome.” Moments later he’s chatting and happy as he has blood drawn and prepares for his chemotherapy infusion.
Drake’s battle with leukemia has been particularly challenging. His cancer is considered very high risk because doctors didn’t catch his leukemia when Abby first brought him in with concerning symptoms. “I told my husband, ‘I’m telling you, they’re missing something,’” recalls Abby. It wasn’t until the family was away on vacation in Florida that Drake’s extreme pain led to an emergency hospital visit and ultimately a trip back home to Riley Hospital for Children. The delay in diagnosis meant his white blood cell count had increased enough to make his cancer more difficult to treat.
Although his treatment course is aggressive and his journey has been tough, Drake and his family are grateful for the support of their cancer care team, led by Riley Pediatric Hematologist-Oncologists Dr. Jacki Carter and Dr. Sandeep Batra. They’re also proud of Drake’s positive outlook, illustrated best by the way he once described the feeling in his legs as “a little bit good” in spite of his near-constant pain. “He was made to be able to handle this,” says Abby. “He has always had this spirit to him.”
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