The darkness began to settle in, seeping into the left periphery of his vision like a rolling fog, resembling a crescent slowly travelling across his view.
He grasped his mother’s face, clinging onto the last straws of cloudy vision.
“If I lose my vision completely, I want your face to be the last beautiful thing I may ever see.”
Then, he was wheeled away into eye surgery on July 15, 2010, and when he woke up, the crescent had become a full moon.
“Your son has leukemia,” Dr. Irene Cherrick said. “He has a mass the size of a football in his chest. I don’t have time to talk to you anymore — I have to go save your child, and Dr. Trust is going to explain everything to you.”
At 2 p.m. April 3, 2010, the parents of then-14-year-old Tim Conners had just had the air punched out of them. A sudden announcement like that, after being kept in the dark amid a scurry of activity the entire morning, had them sitting in the room on the 12th floor of Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse, New York, with more questions than answers as Dr. Stewart Trust calmly explained to them the ramifications of Tim’s T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
ALL — a quickly developing type of blood cancer, hence termed “acute” — grows in the lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, which are found in the soft part of the inner bone. The cancer attacks by invading the blood and spreading to the body’s vital organs such as the liver and spleen, having a fatal effect within a few short months if left untreated. When caught early, survival rates for adolescents with ALL typically stand around 72 percent. Tim’s variation, T-cell ALL, accounts for 15–25 percent of all cases of ALL in children and adults.