When a typical toddler bedtime battle progressed into persistent complaints of nighttime leg pain, two-year-old Logan’s parents knew it was time for another visit to the doctor. A trip to the pediatrician in January of 2021 had assured them that there was nothing to worry about and that Logan’s discomfort would soon resolve, but the pain had only grown worse. It was time to take him to the emergency room.
"We knew it was something serious but didn’t know how serious,” his mom, Monica, remembers.
After hours of waiting, scans, tests, and a preliminary diagnosis of leukemia, a biopsy revealed their biggest fear: Logan had neuroblastoma, a pediatric cancer often found in the small glands on top of the kidneys.
“Parents say, ‘Oh I can’t imagine dealing with that,’” Monica says, “but then it happens to you and you’re forced to deal with it – you just have to.”
A self-proclaimed “what-if” person, Monica was grateful for the steadfast support of her partner as they dealt with this life-altering news together. “Jonathan said, ‘We have to go day by day and think positively about it.’ He’s kept me sane.”
The strength of their relationship and their physician’s quickly-delivered treatment plan carried them through those frightening early days. A grueling course of chemotherapy began within the week in his New Mexico hometown, but the family knew that this was only the first step. Logan’s parents continued to lean on one another as they prepared for what came next: a months-long relocation to Colorado for their son’s life-saving bone marrow transplant at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
The family had to say goodbye to the comfort and familiarity of their own community in mid-July, but they did so knowing they would never be without support in Denver, more than 450 miles to the north: their social worker had already referred them to Brent’s Place. Logan’s parents were deeply relieved to learn that housing would be available to them immediately upon arrival, regardless of their financial situation.
After settling into their Safe-Clean apartment just prior to Logan’s transplant, Monica and Jonathan spent the next several months alternating between nights at his hospital bedside and their fully-furnished oasis at Brent’s Place. “It was really hard,” Monica says, remembering long hours spent at the hospital. “You need a mental break.” Hot meals, a private space in which to recharge, and an attentive staff team at Brent’s Place made all the difference for Jonathan and Monica while they were at their most weary and anxious.
On August 3rd, Logan received his first bone marrow transplant. “He did really well,” Monica says, laughing when she remembered the way her unstoppable son bustled around the hospital room after the procedure. “He was still running around and full of energy!” Logan’s second transplant in late September was more challenging, especially with the added complication of a bacterial infection that kept the two-year-old confined to his hospital room for ten days. “He loved saying hi to people,” Monica says, “so having to keep him inside broke your heart.”
Two weeks later, however, Logan was finally well enough to be discharged. He joined his parents at Brent’s Place just in time to celebrate his third birthday, complete with a pile of presents and a Minions-themed cake. As his health stabilized and Halloween neared, the family got to work creating a truly memorable family costume: characters from the Despicable Me movies. Logan had a great time trick-or-treating as a Minion, collecting goodies from the candy chutes, and posing with his parents as Lucy and Balthazar Bratt on a purple catwalk during the virtual Halloween party. “Halloween at Brent’s Place was awesome,” Monica says.
As the family's journey toward healing progressed, the trio could often be found joining activities and safely making friends with other residents, even enjoying socially-distant resident basketball games. The ever-outgoing Logan was able to spend time with other Brent’s Place kids playing outside and interacting through virtual activities like story time. “It makes you happy to see them interact,” Monica adds. She, too, feels the power of the strong and understanding community at Brent’s Place - a group of resident families and staff members who have rallied around and supported her family during the most difficult and frightening time of their lives.
With Thanksgiving on the horizon, Logan, Jonathan, and Monica are hopeful that they may be able to celebrate the coming holiday in their own home, surrounded by loved ones. Logan in particular can’t wait to get back outside and go hiking.
But their time at Brent’s Place won’t be forgotten: “I’ve met so many people with so many good hearts,” Monica says. “Everyone has been so amazing.” When asked to comment, Logan blew an approving raspberry.
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