Sharing cancer… and friendship

When Emily Smith took her son James to the pediatrician, she expected him to be treated for a bad cold or childhood allergies. Instead, the news was life-changing—James was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

At first, coming to Niswonger Children’s Hospital for his weekly treatments was scary and upsetting, but a treasure box of toys, an X-Box to play, child life specialists who help James feel comfortable, and doctors and nurses who have become his friends helped to ease his fears.

Still, because of his lowered immune status, James can’t go to
school or play with other kids, a hard pill to swallow for an active little boy who loves sports, superheroes and playing with friends. The
Niswonger team even found a remedy for that. “They scheduled another little boy to receive his treatment on Thursdays, too, so he
and James could be buddies,” says Emily. “Now James looks forward to Thursdays when he knows he’ll see his friends at the hospital.”