Eight-year-old Landon was a talented member of his soccer team, playing entire games with ease. When it suddenly became difficult for him to make it through practice, his parents knew something wasn’t right.
“He couldn’t even make it up and down the field,” says Landon’s mom, Anne, “then he began rapidly losing weight and having difficulty breathing. That’s when we rushed him to the emergency room at Rady Children’s.”
X-rays showed a large mass in Landon’s chest. It had collapsed his lung and was compressing his heart and pushing down on his kidneys.
Landon underwent a series of procedures as experts at Rady Children’s Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders sought to make a diagnosis. After a bone marrow biopsy, spinal puncture and other tests, Landon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
The Peckham Center team began administering chemotherapy and high-dose steroid therapy to start shrinking the chest mass and killing the leukemia cells.
“We were admitted in mid-November of 2020 and spent all of the holidays that year at Rady Children’s,” remembers Anne. “We celebrated Light the Way, and Landon woke up in the hospital on Christmas morning with presents Santa had delivered for him to open there.”
After about a month in the hospital, Landon’s tests showed no evidence of leukemia, but he would need to continue receiving outpatient and at-home treatment for three more years. This lengthy journey has been filled with many special bonds.
In addition to Landon’s doctors and nurses—who his parents say were exceptional—the family also grew close to the Peckham Center’s child life specialists.
“Every Thursday, we looked forward to the bingo games that the child life team put on throughout the unit,” says [mom name]. “Even the kids who have to stay in their rooms because they’re susceptible to infection get to participate with a walkie-talkie. Every child plays and every child wins. Child life brings so much joy to the kids and to parents—siblings, too. You don’t know how badly you need them until you find yourself in this place.”
Now 11 years old, Landon recently had his chemotherapy port-a-cath removed and is completing the last of his treatments through a regular IV. Both he and his mom have the same wish for the holidays this year: for him to spend time with his family.
“It’s not about the gifts at all,” explains Anne. “It’s about the time—being able to be with his siblings and laugh with them. That’s what I want for him. That’s what I want for any kid.”
The Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders provides the most advanced cancer treatment and hematology services—including blood and bone marrow transplants—to more than 20,000 patients each year. The Peckham Center offers personalized care and wraparound support to offer healing and hope to children like Landon and their families. Philanthropic support helps Rady Children’s focus on groundbreaking research, innovative treatments and holistic psychosocial programs led by the foremost experts in the field to improve outcomes for young patients fighting cancer and their families.