Will Abernathy, age 3, is battling neuroblastoma stage IV cancer. He led a very healthy and active life until he developed symptoms a month prior to the diagnosis. We were all in a state of shock and disbelief over Will's diagnosis. How could this happen to a perfectly happy and healthy little boy? At 31 months, in November 2010, Will's diagnosis was confirmed and our lives were changed forever.
Will has undergone six rounds of chemotherapy at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, plus a tumor resection on his left adrenal gland, a round of outpatient chemo, and numerous ER admissions for fever and blood and platelet transfusions. Will had a central venous line (CVL) that threaded inside the vein to his heart where he received his treatments, blood transfusions, and IV fluids. After having the line for seven months, Will got an infection in it and the line was removed. It was replaced with a port a little over a month later.
Will’s response to the first six standard rounds of chemo was not what the doctors were hoping for. His scan results showed only a partial response to the chemo with little change. His doctor did not feel that he was ready to move on to stem cell, which was the next step on Will’s protocol.
Will's treatment plan is taking a different path and he has been sent to CHOP-Children's Healthcare of Philadelphia to continue treatment with 131I-MIBG therapy which is offered at only six hospitals in the nation. Will completed his first cycle of 131I-MIBG therapy on May 10, 2011. MIBG scans performed seven weeks later still showed stable disease with no change. Will and his family will return to CHOP for a second cycle of 131I-MIBG therapy on June 12, 2011 in hopes that he will go on to respond after two treatments. In the past, you would have never even known that Will had cancer if it weren’t for his hair loss. Now, his hair has grown back because the last time he had chemo was in April. (Hair loss is not a symptom of MIBG.)
Will is your typical, active three-year-old little boy. He enjoys trains and trucks, playing on his swing set and riding toys, dancing, swimming with his buddies at his neighborhood pool, eating out, and aggravating his Boxer dog, Shelby. With his blonde curly locks, bright blue eyes, and affectionate, care-free personality, Will is a true joy to everyone in his life, both family and friends. We acknowledge that the only “gift” of childhood cancer is that you get to know a child intimately and have a relationship that “normal” parents could never experience. We are so thankful that he has handled each treatment so well and isn’t showing symptoms. We cherish every day that we have with him. His life is in the hands of the very skilled staff at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite as well as Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.