‘Life as we knew it was over. I felt absolute fear.’
A mum has shared her horror at discovering her eight-month-old baby had a rare cancer after displaying “typical” teething symptoms.
Ashley Beauregard thought her son was just going through the rigours of getting his first teeth before she realised it could be something more serious.
“Aiden had been sick with a cough, extra fussy, and teething and we just assumed he was dealing with typical eight-month-old things,” Ashley, from Michigan, US, said.
“However, a couple of days after a trip to Pittsburgh in March 2022, I began to think his colouring was off.
“We went over to my parents to visit and they also pointed out how pale he was. I called his paediatrician and we got an appointment for the following day.”
Tests showed Aiden’s haemoglobin was extremely low, and his parents were told to take him to the hospital emergency department.
“They ran a complete blood count — his white blood count came back so high it was obvious he had leukaemia, and we were then in the hospital for 36 days,” Ashley said.
“Life as we knew it was over. I felt absolute fear.”
Aiden was actually suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) — a rare type of blood and bone marrow cancer with which he was diagnosed in March 2022.
Aiden is now aged two and in remission but doctors have warned he will most likely relapse due to a genetic mutation.
They also explained his earlier symptoms — primarily prolonged sickness, paleness, and being fussy and irritable — are all symptoms of leukaemia.
“We have spent 236 days inpatient and countless clinic days in the hospital trying to battle the cancer with protocols but unfortunately, Aiden has relapsed multiple times,” Ashley said.
“He had CAR-T immunotherapy that failed after 16 days. He also had a bone marrow transplant which failed after two months.
“He has had countless blood transfusions, lumbar punctures, bone marrow biopsies, MRIs, CT scans … and although he’s currently in remission we’ve been told it won’t last.
“Five months after his transplant, he is now dealing with graft vs host disease.
“His entire body has basically broken out in a rash but he’s been on steroids and immunosuppressants for over a month now and we are seeing improvement.”
Ashley, 37, and her husband Marcus, 36, are now focused on enjoying every moment with Aiden and their eldest son Declan, 5.
“For the first year, our family life was turned upside down,” Ashley said.
“My husband was taking care of our four-year-old while I was in the hospital caring for Aiden. It’s changed the way I wanted to parent.
“It’s also made me find joy in the mundane and truly look for the good because every moment counts.
“I’m so proud of my family for surviving this hell and finding ways to smile and laugh.
“Even though Aiden is still so happy and full of joy, he has been through more than anyone I know.
“He might not complain about things but I think that’s because he doesn’t know any better.
“He understands things normal kids don’t. He knows the steps to flush his central line, he knows which clinics he likes and doesn’t like.
“This is all he’s ever really known. Childhood cancer is our lives now. We will forever be altered.”