Cancer is never an easy diagnosis to accept, especially when a child is involved. But for one family, the news has served as an inspiration to help others while hoping for good news of their own.
Caleb, the 11-month-old son of Derek and Meghann Derosier, has been battling acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, since September and may be in need of a bone marrow transplant. His father is a 1998 graduate of Presque Isle High School and served four years in the U.S. Army, including 15 months in Iraq; his mother graduated from the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone in 1998 and is now in the U.S. Air Force, stationed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
“Caleb’s my grandson. Treatment began Sept. 8 at [Eastern Maine Medical Center] in Bangor, while the family was living in Brewer. He’s been receiving treatments since then at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.,” said Jim Derosier. “His first round of chemo was at EMMC and the remaining three rounds were at Walter Reed.”
Born Jan. 30, 2010, Caleb Derosier will celebrate his first birthday this weekend with his parents and big sister, Abbie.
Jim Derosier said the family is hoping for a miracle, since this type of cancer has a low survival rate.
“He has a rare form of leukemia called AML M4, which has a 20-30 percent chance of survival,” Derosier said.
The Derosiers have received an outpouring of support since the child was diagnosed.
“Prayers have been said from St. Francis all the way to Sydney, Australia, where the paternal grandfather and great grandparents are from,” the grandfather said.
Chemotherapy has been working, according to Derosier.
“The family was informed in January of this year that Caleb was cancer free after his first round of chemo. Call it a miracle or whatever, but something very special happened,” said Derosier, adding that the family and doctors are cautiously optimistic. “The family and their medical team must now stay vigilant over the next 18 to 24 months in case the cancer should return. If it does, my grandson’s last hope of being cancer free would require a bone marrow transplant.”
Because of the possibility that a transplant may be necessary, the Derosiers are encouraging others to take part in a coming bone marrow drive — as a way not only to help his grandson, if need be, but to help others waiting for a bone marrow match.
“The reason for the bone marrow drive and the benefit supper is to help pay for bone marrow testing. Caleb was home recently enjoying a late Christmas and is getting stronger every day, with the help of modern medicine and prayers from well-wishers from all over,” Derosier said.
The benefit supper will help defray the cost of the bone marrow drive that will be held 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1, at The Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle.
“We’ll be holding a ‘Spaghetti Feed Saturday’ on Jan. 29, at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Presque Isle from 4:30-6:30 p.m. The meal is $8 but any donation toward the Be The Match Foundation will be greatly appreciated,” said Derosier.
Be The Match Foundation is the national organization that collects and tests the marrow information and matches it with the right recipient.
“Please, help Caleb and other patients who are in need of a bone marrow transplant,” said Derosier.
He said his grandson has a fighting spirit that has won the attention of many in a short time.
“Caleb has won so many hearts, not only because of his illness, but because of his never-ending smile that he freely shares with everyone,” Derosier said.
“For those of you who want to keep up-to-date on Caleb, consider joining our chain and reading about ‘Caleb the Incredible’ at www.caringbridge.org/visit/calebderosier,” said Derosier.