After two weeks Cameron still had no relief from pain medicine for persistent leg pain, fever and bruising. Determined to help their son, Pam and Mike took him to an emergency room near their home in Elm Mott, Texas.
“In my heart I felt like something was wrong, something was very wrong,” says Mrs. DeRoon.
Cameron was immediately transferred to Scott & White and seen by pediatric critical care specialist Debra Doubty, MD. Dr. Doubty performed a number of tests and teamed up with oncologist Guy Grayson, MD to make the proper diagnosis.
Cameron was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 3.
“Scott & White gave us answers that we had been longing for,” says Mrs. DeRoon. “But my biggest fear was what actually happened—that he would have cancer.”
Teaming Up Against Cancer
The treatment that followed was grueling—14 blood transfusions, 10 bone marrow extractions, and spinal taps to put the chemotherapy into his spine. Danny Little, MD performed all of Cameron’s intense surgeries and Dr. Grayson oversaw the entire cancer treatment process. All who helped the DeRoons became very close with the family.
“Dr. Grayson has been a truly amazing doctor,” says Mrs. DeRoon. “He not only healed our child, he helped our whole family through a very difficult time! He has become part of our family.”
Another key player in Cameron’s care was his nurse Felipe Coronel. With a shaved head and gifted sense of humor, Felipe found a way to relate to Cameron and make him smile.
Felipe would tease Cameron and say, “Hey, I need one of your hats because my hair isn’t coming back. Yours is coming back.” As his buddy, he would often distract him, play games with him, or bring a special food he likes.
“We lose something as adults that kids have,” says Felipe. “If they fall down, they get back up like nothing happened. With Cameron I didn’t see him just as a patient, but a privilege.”
As a nurse for over 10 years, Felipe believes laughing is the best medicine and would find ways to connect with Cameron and gain his trust.
Cameron’s mom says he’d be sick one minute and the next he’s playing with Felipe. It was refreshing to have someone bring life into a bleak experience.
The Child Life services also helped the family to find joy during this trying time. Cameron’s older sister had a birthday just six days after Cameron was admitted to the hospital. Child Life specialists helped make Britney’s ninth birthday special so she didn’t feel like she was missing out.
“They were there for Britney,” says Mrs. DeRoon. “That made a big difference. We had so much focus on Cameron that she needed someone to focus on her.”
Now the family stops by to say hi every time they are nearby, and Mrs. DeRoon even keeps in touch with some providers through social media. The connections formed were deep and lasting.
The Final Lap
Through the expertise of doctors, prayers from family, and successful treatment, Cameron has been in remission from cancer for more than three years. He is now doing what other kids his age enjoy—with a little more maturity and perspective on life.
He loves to race go-karts competitively and enjoys playing baseball with his dad as his coach. His parents spend every free moment with their kids and realize, more than ever, that family is what really matters.
And during this trying time, the DeRoons were truly part of the Scott & White family.