A Recovery Story
The Lochner Family recently shared with us their journey through their first year as a 'Cancer Family.' Their son, Alden, has had an uphill battle with his illness, but there is light at the end of the tunnel!
“Our story begins on September 6th, 2019, the night before Alden was meant to start kindergarten. He had been complaining about belly pain the day before, we thought it was a virus or appendicitis or new school butterflies, but that night it got so bad we took Alden to the ER. After many tests, they found a tumor the size of a soft ball in his intestines called Neuroblastoma. He was admitted to Hassenfeld Children’s at NYU Langone immediately, where we quickly found ourselves in a whirlwind of what seemed like hundreds of doctors, nurses, and staff throwing information at us. After countless tests, procedures, and surgeries, we learned that Alden was in stage 4 - it had spread to his bone-marrow. The doctors prescribed Alden the most aggressive and harshest treatment plan known to kids.
That begun our lives as a ‘Cancer Family’. My mom retired to help care for both Alden and our younger son, River, then just six months old. My husband and I both continued to work, we could not afford to lose our insurance.
The first six months of chemotherapy were brutally hard on Alden, and we spent so much time at the hospital. A dual bone marrow transplant was followed, as did more chemotherapy, fevers, sepsis, pneumonia, and a 10 hour surgery to remove the tumor. While there were no guarantees the surgery would be a success, thankfully Alden came through with flying colors.
We are presently in our second cycle of immunotherapy. This is no picnic, but the side effects are not nearly as awful as chemo. His hair is growing back, and we see a light at the end of the tunnel. He has 4 more monthly cycles to go then we’ll be done around Christmas.
We decided to move to Nyack to give the boys a proper house and a yard with nature and fresh air. We are thrilled to not live in a tiny Brooklyn apartment. Now that the worst is behind us, we would love for Alden to start 1st grade and be a ‘normal boy’ but with COVID-19 and Alden being immunocompromised, it’s just too risky. He’ll be home schooled for at lease another semester.
We hope that 2021 will be calm and peaceful, and we can enjoy singing birds and building snowmen in our back yard and watching our children grow. Alden will do scans 3 times a year for 5 years, they say if the cancer comes back it will do so in the first 5 years. Although the statistics for this treatment are not 100% survivorship, we do our best not to live in fear. The best we can do is enjoy our strong, beautiful family and be thankful for every day.
The nurses and doctors of NYU Hassenfeld have become our family. We have always felt we were with the best possible team in the world, our oncologist leads the Children’s Oncology Group and was the director of Pediatric Oncology.
We could have not gotten through this year without the support of our friends, family, and the wonderful Frances Pope Foundation who brought emotional and financial relief to us during some of our darkest days. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts."
Katy, Conrad, Alden and Baby River