An ‘amazing experience despite a terrible situation’

Crispin, who’s 2 years old, is being treated for leukemia.

Crispin is 2 years old and the youngest of four siblings. In mid-July, he started getting sick all the time.

“We were going to our pediatrician every week,” explained his mom, Erin. “He’d have hand foot and mouth disease, an ear infection, strep throat or some other kind of virus. He was having all these vague and non-specific symptoms, but no matter what the doctor did, he wasn’t getting better.”

This went on for several weeks. Then, Crispin’s health started to decline.

“He was throwing up, sleeping a lot and didn’t want to eat. It was a Sunday afternoon. He was given an antibiotic, and we were told to come back the next day, but I was done. I wanted answers. I took him to the Emergency Department at Advocate Children’s Hospital – Oak Lawn.”

The physician ordered a complete blood count, which showed Crispin’s platelet and iron counts were extremely low.

“They said it looked like leukemia. I was in shock,” recalled Erin. “But all the doctors and nurses were so kind, empathetic and compassionate.”

Crispin was diagnosed with B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and was immediately admitted to the hospital.

“He looked terrible. I was scared for the worst. With COVID-19, we’d put off having him baptized, but our priest was allowed to come and baptize him that night.”

Good days and bad

Crispin spent 10 days in the hospital.

“It was a roller coaster, especially because of the pandemic, but the doctors and nurses were very reassuring and took the time to explain everything that was happening,” said Erin. “Everyone was so kind, skillful and thoughtful. They attended to our whole family. It was a horrible situation, but they made it bearable.”

Crispin has a long road of chemotherapy ahead of him, but his mom says he’s responding well to treatment and is already back to being his “destructive and messy self.”

For the next six weeks, Crispin was in and out of the hospital as he fought off several infections. Through everything, Erin was amazed by how supportive and accommodating his care team was.

“There were times I felt trapped in the hospital, and the nurses would sit with him so I could take a quick walk outside. They’d bring him food and read him stories. There was one nurse who went on walks with me and Crispin so she could monitor him and make sure his I.V. stayed put.”

The social workers helped by recommending family support programs and other resources. And the Child Life program kept Crispin entertained.

“He loved it when the music therapist came to visit and when we were able to do arts and crafts,” shared Erin.

Today, Crispin is in remission, but he’s still getting treatment at Advocate Children’s Keyser Family Pediatric Cancer Center.

“He’s responded very well to chemotherapy. He still has another two to three years of treatment, so it’s going to be a long haul, but he’s doing great – he’s back to his destructive and messy self!”

How you can help kids like Crispin

Many of the programs at Advocate Children’s Hospital – such as music therapy and art therapy – are only possible because of the generous support of donors. Please consider making a gift today.

“I can’t say enough about the great quality of care and how well we’ve been treated,” said Erin. “It’s been an amazing experience despite the terrible situation.”