No one wants to hear a cancer diagnosis especially not for their 3 year old child
From the food drive today.
Atrium health navicent says .... it hopes to do more food drives in the future.
No one wants to hear a cancer diagnosis -- especially not for their three year old child.
But that's the situation -- one month ago -- for a monroe county family.
Now, their community is covering them with love and support.
At the same time ... this situation is helping to spreading awareness about one of the most common forms of childhood cancer.
We do need to mention... this story is personal for us ... here at 41-nbc.
That's because our managing editor and producer clay poulnott's family is fighting this cancer battle.
It's a story only on 41-nbc.
R "it's unbearable.
You are living your worse nightmare."
However clay and rachel poulnott are bearing it.
And it feels like all of monroe county is there to support them.
((nats)) this family is fighting cancer -- lymphoblastic lymphoma -- one of the most common forms of childhood cancer.
It affects the cells of the immune system... and can spread throughout the body.
C "i prayed a lot.
He gave me a lot of comfort, a lot of peace to give her comfort and peace."
The cancer diagnosis came days before their son -- colton's -- fourth birthday.
Clay and rachel were concerned about his breathing.
((nats of video)) the poulnott's say doctors treated colton for an upper respitory infection.
But when the steroids wore off... he still struggled to breathe.
C "it's in his throat.
There is something else there."
X-rays and c-t scans proved this dad was right.
They showed a large mass near colton's throat... nearly crushing his airways...forcing him to breathe through a passage... in some places as narrow as a straw.
C " (silence) it was big."
Doctors rushed colton by ambulance to children's healthcare of atlanta - egleston hospital.
R "we got off the elevator all these doctors and nurses greeted me there, already knew what was going on.
It was so overwhelming.
Colton was placed in the intensive care unit monday.
By wednesday he needed oxygen to breath.
C "we didn't do anything for whatever reason why, if something or they took longer at the hospital, i don't know if he would have lived another two days because it was growing that fast."
The toddler also tested positive for covid-19.
On top of that... a biopsy revealed his mass was cancer.
R "it's hard.
You just want to take the pain away.
You just want to.
He don't deserve it.
But he's tough.
He's so tough."
Doctor frank keller treats colton at egleston.
He says only four to five... out of one hundred thousand u-s children ... will get lymphoblastic lymphoma.
It's unknown what causes it.
But it usually appears as a mass..
Most likely in the chest area.
Symptoms include a cough... or shortness of breath.
But it's sometimes passed off as asthma.
"it's probably a good idea to do a chest xray to make sure it's something other than asmtha.
Because this is something that is easily visible on a chest x-ray."
Doctor keller says it's good colton's condition was caught in time.
"as it gets bigger it can create more and more of a life threatening situation because those are important structures like your breathing tubes, your heart and blood vessels."
After five days in icu ... colton moved to the cancer floor of the hospital.
Rachel shared the news on social media.
And friends and family joined ... their cancer fight.
"when i saw that post, just being a mom myself, i broke down in tears."
Maria allen lives right down the road from the poulnotts.
And her kids ... play with their kids.
"i want to do for them what i hope others would do for me."
Allen coordinated fundraisers with local restaurants... and collected gift cards and donations.
"without hestitation they just were immediately like yes, what can we do.
We want to donate this or that."
Long-time family friend katie bradberry got creative.
She helped design "colton strong" rubber bracelets, car decals and t-shirts.
She says the items have raised more than three thousand dollars... to help the family with medical bills and other costs.
Each item... displays the words colton strong ... the childhood cancer ribbon ... and a tank.
"like people call him, he's a tank.
And he is kicking cancer's butt."
After 17 days in the hospital... colton was released two days before his birthday.
The family headed home... and they were greeted with unexpected love and support.
C "people you don't even know and probably will never know, will never meet just willing to help out in any way that they can.
It makes the hair on my arms stand up."
Business brought food.
A "go fund me page" pulled in more than 12-thousand dollars.
Front lawns were covered with "colton strong" signs.
And the mary persons footall team even stopped by with a special gift.
((nats)) but colton's fight is far from over.
Clay says the next part is critical.
C: "the first part was about shrinking it.
Now it's about killing it."
He tells his son there's a ball in his throat... and he needs to take his medicine to get it out.
"what does it do to a young body as their going through treatment?"
"there are a number of short term side effects like hair loss, in some cases weight gain or weight loss.
Keller says threatments include two years of include two threatments keller says weight loss.
Weight gain or some cases hair loss, in some cases weight gain or weight loss.
Keller says threatments include two years of chemotherapy medications ... but rarely surgery or radiation.
The poulnotts say while the road is rough.... they are ready.
And monroe county is ready to back them up ... in their fight.
"what rachel always says is this is our now, our right now.
It's not our always.
It's not always going to be like this.
And he will get better."
The poulnott family says colton will undergo two years of treatment.
And his second -- more intense -- round of chemo starts next week.
Doctor keller says most children are cured of this form of cancer... and go on to live long lives.
It usually affects older kids or teens... and boys more so than girls.
I asked doctor keller what causes