2019 Honored Patient: Benjamin
Let’s start off with some really great news. Benjamin (4) from Farmington, MN will be starting preschool this fall and he’s so excited to make new friends there. Due to his treatment for leukemia last year, he wasn’t able to attend preschool as planned. We just had to get that out!
Since he was diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on February 20, 2018, Ben and his family (parents Nathan and Brigitte, brothers Matthew and Isaac) have ridden the roller coaster of emotions that all pediatric cancer patients and their families face.
Ben’s mom, Brigitte, recounted the challenging weeks that led up to his diagnosis. “Ben had swollen lymph nodes in his neck around Christmas 2017 and later got sick with a virus in January. He had a complete blood count and was tested for influenza, strep, and mono, and everything came back negative. In February, he spiked a high fever and was diagnosed with the fu and pneumonia. He got a little better with antibiotics but then his fever jumped back up to 104°F. His body just wasn’t responding to treatment.” Their doctor urged them to come back in and then go straight over to Children’s where his diagnosis was confirmed.
Ben had 9 months of intense frontline treatment from February-November 2018. He then began the maintenance phase and that will continue until April 27, 2021.
Ben’s family is appreciative of everyone at Children’s Minnesota.
“Children’s has been AMAZING! Every member of the staff really cares about each and every one of the kids and families that walk through their doors. The Oncology Department is like a family and we feel like we are part of it. It is a family we never wanted to be in but we are so grateful to be a part of it now,” said Brigitte.
Dr. Bruce Bostrom, his primary oncologist, even taught Ben the “Captain America Song.” Ben’s favorite superhero is Captain America but Ben's family had no idea that he even had a song. Ben also likes to “talk shop” with a few of his nurses who are also hockey fans.
Ben's family also has a soft spot for the Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic and all who support it.
“The funds that are given to the physical therapy department through the Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic have been instrumental in Ben’s cancer journey. Lynn, Ben’s PT, is leading the charge by advocating for the physical therapy needs of kids going through cancer treatment. She is teaching physical therapists around the world how to help these kids. Back in March of last year, Ben could hardly walk from the couch to the table without holding someone’s hand, as he was physically handicapped due to his cancer treatments. If it weren’t for her and the other staff, Ben would likely not be able to run, jump, and play like a normal 4-year-old boy should. Without these physical abilities Ben would not be able to play baseball and hockey, which he loves, or climb on play equipment and chase after his friends with a water gun. It is so important for their emotional and mental health for kids like Ben to be able to be physically active.”