Grayson's Fight: Your Gifts at Work
Four-year-old Grayson Connor sits on his grandfather’s lap in the infusion room in the Riley Hospital Outpatient Hematology/Oncology Clinic. He is holding a doll in one hand and a toy syringe in the other. “Are you ready?” asks Child Life Specialist Krista Hauswald. “How do you give the shot?” She is helping Grayson work through his anxiety about the chemotherapy shots, which he receives three days per week for two weeks in a row.
Grayson was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in December 2014. After 28 days of induction chemotherapy, he went through testing to see if he was remission. “The minimal residual disease (MRD) test can tell you if there is even just the smallest amount of leukemia left after induction chemotherapy,” explains Riley Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist Michael Ferguson, M.D., M.S. “He had a small amount left, unfortunately, which we know from studies puts him at a higher risk of the disease coming back, so that’s why we now give increased intensity therapy to those patients, hoping to decrease the number of relapses.”
It’s been a difficult journey for Grayson’s family. Amanda and Jonathan Connor must juggle the frequent trips to Riley from their home in Evansville while caring for Grayson and his two younger brothers. Amanda says she appreciates Riley’s caring staff, which has made them feel like “part of a new family.”
Dr. Ferguson says he hopes Grayson will stay in remission and never have to worry about leukemia again. “He is just the funniest little 4-year-old you’ll ever meet,” says the oncologist.
Outcomes for children like Grayson keep improving thanks to research, and Dr. Ferguson says donors are an increasingly vital source of funding for life-saving scientific discoveries. “We’re striving for a 100% cure, and we’re not there yet. No kids should die from cancer, and we hope with continued research to obtain that goal in the future.”
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