Patient Story:  Brayden Jones

11-year-old Brayden, who was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago, continues to visit the hospital for treatment.

In April 2009, when he was 9 years old, Brayden Jones began having trouble breathing. His parents took him to the local emergency room, where doctors ordered a chest x-ray.

"When I first saw his chest x-ray, I immediately knew something wasn't right," Brayden's mother, Lisa, says. "His left lung was barely visible because of a huge mass in his chest. When the doctor pulled us aside and told us Brayden had leukemia, we just cried and cried."

Brayden and Lisa flew to Arkansas Children's Hospital on an Angel One helicopter, while Bryan, Brayden's father, made the drive from Northwest Arkansas to Little Rock. Once at ACH, Brayden was admitted to the Donald W. Reynolds Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), where doctors immediately begin working to save his life.

Brayden had a mass in his chest that was doubling in size every 24 hours, pushing his airway aside and putting pressure on his organs. He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

"Young kids like Brayden who come in with leukemia are very, very sick," says Dr. Robert Saylors*, Brayden's physician. "Historically, this type of ALL was aggressive and had a very low cure rate, compared to other pediatric leukemias. But, through research done here at ACH and at other children's hospitals, we now have really excellent treatment protocols for kids like Brayden. The cure rate for his condition is now at least 85 percent, which is just amazing."

Once he was stabilized, doctors placed Brayden on an intense regimen of chemotherapy to shrink the mass. Luckily, the tumor began to shrink and after four days, Brayden was transferred from the PICU to the hematology/oncology unit.

"We knew moving out of the PICU was a great step in Brayden's recovery, but it was also a cold dose of reality for us," says Lisa. "We saw sweet little ones with bald heads and IV poles and reality hit us. We realized this is what the next stage of this battle will look like."

Brayden went home to Bella Vista after 10 days at ACH.

"Right before we were discharged, Dr. Saylors told us that Brayden had come to ACH as one of the sickest children he had ever seen, but was leaving as one of the healthiest," says Lisa. "We were overjoyed, but it was hard to hear. We just had no idea how sick our little boy was."

He began receiving a weekly treatment at a clinic in Northwest Arkansas, with a monthly visit to Little Rock.

"One of the reasons the hospital helps me so much is because I know I'm not the only one dealing with this," Brayden says. "There are other kids, just like me, who are battling cancer, and I can visit with them. That makes me feel better."

Brayden's cancer is gone, but his treatments will continue until August 2012.

"When we first started Brayden's treatments in August 2009 and they told us he would need three years of treatment, 2012 just seemed so far away," Lisa says. "It's hard to believe in less than a year he will be finished. We have come to be so comfortable with the staff at ACH. Brayden is doing so well now thanks to the amazing care he's received there and we never want to take that for granted."

Brayden, a 6th grader, enjoys playing golf with his dad and watching sports.

To learn more about Brayden and his amazing fight against cancer, watch his video.

*Robert L. Saylors III, MD, is holder of the Jaxon C. Lee – Robert L. Saylors III, MD Endowed Chair in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at ACH and associate professor, department of pediatrics, UAMS College of Medicine.

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