3 Year-Old Cancer Patient Strives for a Normal Childhood-Catching Up With Danny
In my years in the radio biz, I've been a part of hundreds of fund-raisers. Houses burn down, people get sick, parents die, kids are left behind, innocent folks are victimized ...it can be a hard, cold world, and you don't have to look very far to find a sad story. If the people who have these unfortunate things happen to them have any luck, someone takes sympathy and organizes... a benefit in their behalf, to help with bills and everyday living expenses.
Inevitably, the radio station gets involved in giving these events publicity and I learn some details of these peoples' lives. It's part of the job. The more you know about a person's situation, the easier it is to ask others to help them through a tough time.
You know what is almost as inevitable? Once the fundraiser, the walk-a-thon or the beef and beer is over, so is my involvement with those people. It's not that I stop caring about them, it's just the way it usually goes. There are other causes, other people in need, new directions to go...life goes on.
That might have been the case with Danny Feltwell too, but it wasn't. I first heard about Danny's story at Margate's Polar Bear Plunge on New Year's Day, and Lite Rock spent most of January spreading the word about a benefit called "A Day for Danny" , which was held aboutt a month ago. The more I got to know about Danny and his family, the more determined I became not to let this little boy become yesterday's news.
No question about it, Danny's short life has been filled with more more than his share of troubles. He was diagnosed with a serious form of childhood cancer at age two and doctors said that only an aggressive form of chemotherapy could save his life. So Danny's single dad left his job, moved his small family back in with his folks in Margate, and started the process of taking his son to Delaware for monthly treatments. That's how they've lived for over a year now.
Danny has seen some periods of improvement; but the medicine he must take was made for an adult, and it takes an awful toll on a young boy's developing body. Danny's father, Dan or DJ., saw this impact on his boy and made it his crusade to learn as much as he could about his son's disease and why there was no appropriate form of chemotherapy for someone his age. He read all he could about find about the cancer, T-cell Lymphoblastic lymphoma, and the work that was being done to find a cure, or at least a medicine which wouldn't ravage his little boy's body. He became something of an expert on what is known about the disease.
What he found is far too little is known. It remains one of those childhood cancers that is under-researched and under-publicized. I know as much as I do from one very informative half-hour conversation with Dan, who is incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about the topic. It's not just Danny he's concerned about anymore, it's all the children who are facing or will face the same situation in their lives.
So, from time to time, I plan to bring you updates on Danny in this forum and on my radio show. I've attached a link to Dan's blog at Caring Bridge.org, where you can keep up with Danny's progress yourself, and if you're so inclined, make a donation to help defray the enormous cost of this treatment. (http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/danieltimothyfeltwell)
Here's a recent letter from Dan Feltwell with the latest on Danny....
Danny is doing much better now. After that wonderful Benefit that was held for Danny, Thank You, he started Pre-school. Danny`s Medical Team thought that getting him back to some sort of "normal" routine would be good for him and the thought was that he would be able to do it physically. Danny is Immuno Compromised, or his ability to fight off infection is suppressed. Danny really enjoyed his first week, in the morning he went to The Ross School and in the afternoon he went to PlayGroups Plus, both are here in Margate. Danny would receive his Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapies at Ross and Early Childhood Development at both Ross and PlayGroups Plus. I could not have asked for a better environment for my son, the wonderful people who care for Danny at both Ross and PlayGroups are beautiful and wonderful people. Danny started "School" on Jan. 30th and continued through that week with excitement and his usual happy and playful demeanor. On that Friday Feb. 3rd I had picked Danny up from PlayGroups and he was not feeling like himself, I like to say it was a not so good moment in our good day`s because all of our day`s are good. Danny started to run a high fever and I had to call his Oncologist, Dr. Christopher Frantz Chief of the Oncology Dept at AI duPont Hosp. for Children. Danny was immediately admitted into the Hospital for testing and treatment. What we found was that Danny has a Bacterial Sinus Infection, and because of the IV antibiotics Danny had to receive the "good" Bacteria, or Flora, was depleted and he developed C - Difficile, which is an overgrowth of Bacteria from the digestive tract and bowels. Danny received a Blood Product called IVIG, this is the anti-bodies of the White Blood Cells and Plasma, to help him fight the Bacterial Infections that has given him a not so good moment. I brought Danny home late Tuesday night, Feb. 7th, and we are treating him at home with antibiotics. Danny is doing very well and he is always a happy and playful little guy. To watch him play you would never know that he has been through so much adversity. We have had to stop his Chemotherapy for a short period of time while we get Danny well, but he should be well enough to start again after he finishes his antibiotics. There is no way I could say that Danny would not have gotten sick if I were to keep him home and not send him to "School", he really enjoys the time with all the Children and the Professionals who care for him, so Danny will start "School" again when he is ready. I believe that Danny`s mental well being is just as important as his physical well being, and to keep him isolated would not benefit him. All of what Danny goes through is part of him fighting Cancer and being in Treatment, I do not like any of it but I do understand what he is up against.
Thank you for caring about my son and for all you are doing, I am forever grateful for you and everyone who cares about a little boy whom most have not met. The love and compassion that my son and I have been shown is amazing, we do live in a special place filled with many special people. I will keep you informed of Danny and his progress so you may share it with everyone, Thank You Eddie you are truly an wonderful man.
Danny`s Dad (Dan Feltwell)
p.s. I have attached a picture of Danny on his first day of "School"