Meet Davbram Flowers

“Pure devastation” is how Shandra Flowers describes the state of her emotions when she and her husband Davbram learned that their three-year-old son Davbram Jr. –D.J.—had B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). But just as suddenly as their world seemed to be coming apart, Shandra says their team at Arkansas Children’s swept into action, not just with a medical treatment plan, but with the emotional and practical support the family would need to face the journey ahead.

“It laid the foundation for us to build on,” she says. “It was very important for us to keep our family normal, and we took time at the beginning to process our emotions individually and together. It took a whole team to help us do that—doctors to answer medical questions, child life specialists to teach DJ about his treatment plan and to tell our daughter some of the things to expect.”

Treatment was started almost instantly, with D.J.’s infusaport surgically implanted, first lumbar puncture and bone marrow aspiration, as well as chemotherapy administered directly into his spinal fluid. The fight had officially begun.

D.J.’s team at Children’s has since become “like family,” says Shandra. “I’m a nurse, but when you’re the parent, and it’s your child in pain, it’s a different perspective.” Being able to rely on others means she can focus on being a mom.

“My advice to other parents going through this is to allow yourself to feel. We always try to be strong for our kids, but you have to go through the emotions too, or you can’t help your child cope. Make time for yourself. Take the help offered to you. Trust in the team.”

The Flowers were especially grateful for child life specialists, and how they paid special attention to the needs and concerns of DJ’s big sister, Kiria. “They have a lot of different teaching materials and they know how to talk to kids on their age level,” says Shandra. “They were a big help. It took a load off me not to have to try to answer her questions when I had thousands of questions myself. “

Shandra cites “awesome” nurses Laura Parker and Lindsey Miller as some of her “go-to people.” Social worker Tara Dejon has also been an intricate member of the team. “When we first got admitted, she assisted us with our financial concerns, and helped connect us with resources that related to his diagnosis. “

As for D.J., his mom calls him “a tough little guy.”

“He is so energetic, and always has a smile on his face. He’s been my inspiration. Seeing the way he deals with everything helps me get through it.

And big sister has stepped up to be part of the dream team, too. Shandra says a family friend recently observed how Kiria has matured since D.J.’s diagnosis. “She takes her big sister role a little more seriously now,” says her proud mom. “As if she’s thinking, “that’s my brother and I have to take care of him."

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