Child with Autism, Down Syndrome overcomes cancer with help from Child Cancer Fund

Jacksonville — Cancer is one of the toughest diagnosis a parent can face, but when Rankin’s parents found out he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, they had already been dealing with two tough diagnosis.  Rankin is a child with Autism and Down Syndrome.

It all started in 2008 with a swollen hand, but when his father took Rankin to his doctor for some tests, he found it was much worse than he feared.  “His white count came back incredibly high, so fear and panic started with my wife and spread to me, obviously,” Pete Lee said.  “He was checked into Nemours that very day, and treatment started the next day.”

It was a diagnosis that changed their lives again.  For even though they were used to their struggles with their young son’s conditions, they didn’t know how he would react to a tough treatment regimen.  “A lot of times Rankin would struggle and fight,” Lee said, “but the people at Nemours were fantastic so we were able to get it done.”  Lee credits a Child Life Specialist “Ms. Jolly” with brightening their day, and keeping Rankin calm or distracted when he’d undergo his blood draws.  “She could bring a smile to your face when you had no intention of smiling.  Some people say, ‘you fight cancer,’ and you do, but you fight cancer with help.”  Lee said Ms. Jolly, whose position is funded entirely by the Child Cancer Fund, also made the difficult, exhausting time the adults a bit easier.  “We always had someone there to make the situation lighter, and Ms. Jolly is the best at that.  The best I’ve ever seen.”

Against the odds, Rankin beat cancer and has been in remission since 2012.  He’s now 20 years old, and his parents say they still have his miracle story in the back of their head every day, but they cherish the moments they have with their son thanks to his fantastic treatment and the people who fought alongside them at the Child Cancer Fund.

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