4-year-old remains upbeat despite diagnosisOn a recent sunny day, 4-yearold Xavier Valandra could be found running through Hitchcock Park with his older brother, Marquel.
By: Jennifer Jungwirth, The Daily Republic
On a recent sunny day, 4-yearold Xavier Valandra could be found running through Hitchcock Park with his older brother, Marquel.
Xavier raced Marquel up and down the slide, to the swing set and across the monkey bars, all the while laughing and smiling like any other happy child at the park that day.
And Xavier is a happy child, said his mother, Deanna Flood. His father is Craig Valandra. Both live in Mitchell.
Despite his outward appearance, Xavier is unlike most boys his age. He is battling cancer.
Xavier was diagnosed with acute lympho leukemia in March 2009 when he was 2. Acute lympho leukemia, or ALL, is a cancer that develops in the bone marrow, or the soft tissue in the bones. The cancer spreads and infects the bone marrow and blood system. It is most common in children ages 2-5.
Right before Xavier was 2, Flood said he was often sick. “Xavier kept crying and he told us he had ‘owies,’ ” Flood said. And he suffered fevers that spiked at 101 and 102 degrees. “We kept giving him Tylenol, and we’d take off his pajamas and check for bruises,” his mother said. “But there was nothing physical.” Several trips to the pediatrician were made, in hopes to find out what was causing her son pain.
“They said it was either growing pains or we were spoiling him,” she said. “Finally, we took him to the ER to see if his bone was broken and we just didn’t know.” After blood tests and X-rays, Flood and her family received the news that her son had leukemia. “We were scared,” she said. “His father and I cried a lot,” There were a lot of unanswered questions the first several weeks of his diagnosis. Once Xavier visited the Sanford Children’s Castle in Sioux Falls, he was officially diagnosed with ALL.
Xavier experienced a lot of poking and prodding. He had a port placed in his chest, too, because the doctors were unable to draw blood from his arm.
“You know he’s going through pain and it’s hard to watch,” Flood said. “For being so young, it was hard on him at first, but once he started to get to know the staff, it got a lot better.
“Sometimes he gets upset about it, but you know, I would, too. You get tired of it.”
Xavier is currently in remission. He went into it five months after his diagnosis.
He takes chemotherapy treatments once a month and has a spinal tap every three months.
He also takes one pill a day, which his mother says he handles well.
Although in remission, there are still a lot of things Xavier can’t do, which is hard on a 4-year-old with two older siblings.
He can’t go to the swimming pool. The last trip to the local pool caused Xavier to run a high fever and ER visit.
He hasn’t been sick for more than a year, and Flood said she’s trying to keep it that way. Xavier can’t go outside when it’s raining or damp out.
“We just keep telling him it’s not too long and he will get to go to school. He can’t wait to go to school,” Flood said. “He sees his brother and sister get new backpacks and school supplies and he wants to go, too.”
Flood said Xavier is excited to be part of Heart and Sole. He already knows a lot of the people in the community, and enjoys being around other people.
After all, Xavier is, in most ways, just like other happy, playful kids.