Pennies for Patients Guest Blogger: Theresa Dowling

I am so excited that the Missouri Valley Community School District is participating in the Pennies for Patients fundraising campaign to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society! Trust me, every penny helps! -Theresa Dowling

My son, Connor, has been attending Missouri Valley schools since he was in preschool. He was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) four days before his 9th birthday. I remember hearing the news like it was yesterday and remember thinking "This cannot be happening, this happens to other people but not us". He was immediately admitted to Nebraska Medical Center where he underwent three weeks of extreme chemotherapy treatments. He continued to undergo high dose treatments in the outpatient treatment center. The chemo treatments took their toll on his little body, he eventually lost his hair, and was in a wheelchair because he was too weak to walk. After a month of treatment we received the good news that he was in remission! For a total of 3 1/2 years he went to outpatient treatment and finally in December, 2019 he received his last treatment!

Throughout his treatment he had his share of ups and downs. Anytime he had a fever of 100.4 he had to go to the emergency room for antibiotics and was admitted to the hospital a couple times because his blood counts were low, not to mention he received several blood transfusions throughout the course of his treatment. Thankfully, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is one of the most treatable forms of childhood cancer. However, after discovering Connor had cancer I also learned that childhood leukemia has been on the rise since the 1970's. In addition, due to lack of funding a limited amount of new treatment options have been discovered. Some of the prominent drugs used to treat this type of cancer were discovered years ago and can have long term effects.

We recently met with a researcher/doctor at Nebraska Medicine who discussed how funding has not increased in the last ten years and the chances of receiving a government grant is 2%. She always worries that funding will be cut or run out and she will need to eliminate staff, thus, stopping her research projects. She also said every little bit helps, the money they receive is used to purchase lab equipment, mice, staff salaries etc.

I hope that you can find it in your hearts to dig through your couch cushions, car seats, and pocket books to donate loose change to this great cause! Thank you for your support! -Theresa