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Meet Cameron, Your July Butterfly Buddy!

Cam at two years old lost his hair due to chemotherapy using a toy phone

Cameron, affectionately known as Cam, is a whip-smart, 8-year-old boy who will be turning nine in August. He’s a history buff who loves to learn, and he can recite all of the U.S. presidents in order in under two minutes! He lives in Connecticut with his mom, Jessica, dad, Brendan, and his younger brother, Evan, who will be turning two in October.

On an ordinary day in October 2017, when Cam was a healthy, active, toddler– just two years old himself– he attended a library program with Brendan. Cam, who loved dancing around, suddenly couldn't get back up after sitting down; Jessica immediately knew something was wrong and made an appointment with their pediatrician. Despite initial reassurances from doctors, Jessica pushed to have blood work done to be sure that Cam was OK. Jessica's intuition proved correct when she received a call in the middle of night to let her know that Cam's blood tests had revealed alarmingly low counts. She recalls her fear on that night: “He could have had internal bleeding or a stroke in his crib because his platelets were so low, and his hemoglobin was dangerously low.”

The following days were a whirlwind of tests and transfusions. The doctors suspected leukemia but couldn’t confirm it right away; it wasn’t until Halloween, nearly three days later– also Jessica’s birthday– that their suspicions of a leukemia diagnosis were officially confirmed.  Cam was categorized as average risk because the leukemia had not yet spread to his blood, allowing for early and aggressive treatment. He was hospitalized for two weeks, receiving powerful chemotherapy that required constant medical supervision. The initial phase of treatment was grueling and painful. “He couldn’t walk and he stopped speaking during this time, he was so overwhelmed,” Jessica remembers.

The next few years were a blur of trips to the ER, aggressive chemotherapy, and constant vigilance. Cam endured unimaginable pain, and Brendan stayed home full-time to care for him; Jessica continued working to support the family financially. Their lives revolved around Cam's blood tests, treatments, and the ever-present fear of infection. "We lived blood test to blood test," Jessica recalls. The isolation was intense, not only for Cam but for the entire family. They had to cancel plans frequently and avoided social interactions to protect Cam’s fragile immune system. Holidays were tense, as they were spent with extreme caution to avoid hospital visits. The financial strain was significant, with Brendan out of work for several years, adding to the emotional toll.

As Cam's treatment progressed, the family faced new challenges. The late effects of the treatment began to surface—post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, fatigue, joint pain, and bone damage. These issues made everyday activities daunting for Cam. He struggled with peers, often feeling more comfortable around adults, and his anxiety manifested in frequent questions about his health. "He doesn't understand that not every little thing is out there to hurt him," Brendan explains, highlighting the confusion and fear that linger from years of medical trauma. Upon returning to school, Cam had difficulty understanding his peer’s social cues and couldn’t keep up with them physically, making gym class and recess his least favorite times of the day.

Initially, Cam’s physical therapy was covered by insurance, but when coverage ended, Lucy’s Love Bus stepped in. Cam began taking dance classes thanks to funding from donors like you! His oncologist has endorsed the dance classes as being as beneficial as the physical therapy, if not more so for the social interaction he gets with his peers.

Jessica emphasizes, “Cam is so happy when he gets back in the car from dance class - he would not be adjusting as well as he is right now if he didn’t have the services that Love Bus provides,” adding, “we’re still working on catching up financially after years of only one of us being able to work; we would not be able to put him into a single extracurricular activity without help from Lucy’s Love Bus.”

Thanks to donors like you, Lucy’s Love Bus funded both art and dance classes for Cam, which have been invaluable in helping him feel like a regular kid again: letting him engage in activities that bring him joy, giving him more peer-to-peer interactions, and bringing a sense of normalcy into his childhood. The journey through Cam's leukemia treatment has been arduous, and the financial and emotional strains on the family have been immense. Post-treatment life is filled with challenges that are often overlooked, but the continued support from organizations like Lucy's Love Bus makes a significant difference.

Jessica expresses deep gratitude for the importance and impact of these resources, highlighting how crucial they are for both the children who have endured cancer and their families, who continue to face long-term effects. “I don’t think people put as much importance on the late-effects of cancer, and what families go through after treatment. The effects for him are long term, and the effects for us are long term,” Jessica tells us, adding, “This is why I wholeheartedly believe that resources after treatment are just as important as resources during treatment. What Lucy’s Love Bus does is so important, I’m so grateful for the organization and all of its supporters.”

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