Jacksonville, FL - “My heart was prepared for a big life-changing diagnosis, I wasn’t thinking cancer.”
It’s the last thing on the minds of a lot of parents when they notice something different about their kids. Katie and Jeremy Albers just knew something was off when Gabe started to show atypical symptoms.
He started to have a lot of belly pain, a lot of joint pain, and it was hard for him to do certain movements.
It was a revolving door at the doctor’s office for the Albers family for months as they try to pin down what exactly is happening to their child. It wasn’t until June of 2016 when the family took Gabe to the ER after having severe belly pain and after about 24 hours they were given news that would change their lives. An MRI found one tumor over Gabe’s pituitary gland, but that was just the beginning.
A subsequent MRI showed tumors all throughout his central nervous system…his brain and his spine.
The tumors were blocking the flow of fluid from Gabe’s brain which is what led him to have those troubling symptoms. Then the family got the diagnosis – a rare form of cancer called Diffuse leptomeningeal glioneuronal tumor. The family started talking about treatment after Gabe went through brain surgery to help alleviate the pressure.
Getting the diagnosis was completely devastating to our family.
The Albers didn’t know stop there. Family members and church members rallied behind the family. Katie says she didn’t have to cook dinner; her parents would watch the other boys while Gabe had to go to the doctors. Katie did say financially she ended up quitting work but is very thankful that the Child Cancer Fund existed, but the family didn’t need the financial help.
The family did appreciate the Family Retreat Weekends were tremendous for the Albers. Katie says the entire family was able to enjoy spending time together with everything being covered by the Child Cancer Fund.
Gabe is now in remission and is doing well. Though his mother says the tumors in his brain and spinal cord will always be there. After chemo infusions ended in March of 2018 and his scans have been stable ever since. Katie says as long as they stay stable – Gabe will never need treatment again.
We just passed the anniversary of when he was diagnosed, and I thought coming up to it, I thought it was going to be a sad day but it honestly was a very peaceful. I was very thankful that we are on this side of treatment.
Looking back, Gabe mentions he loved going to the clinic. His mother would say it was because he was getting gifts and unlimited screen time. One person does come to mind on why Gabe enjoyed it so much, Ms. Jolie.
She gives me beads of courage every week and when I see her, and she talks to me, I feel better about getting my needle.