19-month-old Carson Fox is fighting for his life.
He was diagnosed Aug. 10 with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and currently is at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, where doctors are aggressively treating him with chemotherapy. He will also need to undergo surgeries.
Symptoms first began several days earlier, when it was first believed that he was crying and cranky because he was teething. Then other symptoms began to appear.
“No matter where you touched him, bruises started popping up,” said Lyssa Rothrock, a second cousin to Carson; she and his mother, Shannan Hall, are direct cousins. “For example, he would sit on his knees and when he got up he would have bruises.”
Initially, she added, it was thought the bruises were simply a matter of him just being a normal, active boy. However, he began showing signs of lethargy, his stomach swelled and marks on his body similar to those of chicken pox appeared; of the latter, though, he was not itching.
Suspicious and thinking Carson might have leukemia, Rothrock and Hall went to the WebMD site and what they read were “red flags.”
On Sunday, Aug. 10, Hall brought her son to Lakeland Regional Medical Center, where tests were conducted. When the results were in, doctors told Hall they were immediately transporting him to All Children’s Hospital.
“At 10 p.m., she texted me and said he’d been diagnosed with leukemia,” said Rothrock. “On Monday, we got the actual type (of leukemia).”
Carson, she added, was prepped for surgery on Tuesday, Aug. 11. The procedure involved placing a port on him, as well as having a spinal tap performed, in addition to the spine being where the chemo drug went. Bone marrow from his hip was also taken.
“Right now he’s doing pretty good,” Shannan Hall said on Wednesday, Aug. 13. Sounds of discomfort from Carson were heard in the background. “The leukemia is in his bones and his bones hurt.”
How well the treatment progresses will determine whether Carson is brought home next week.
“We’re hoping for him to be released next Wednesday or Thursday, depending upon where his white cell and platelet counts are,” she said. “He’ll be going back to All Children’s once a week after that, likely one-and-a-half to two years.”
Rothrock, who works in the Human Resources department for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, contacted her friend, Tonya Barwick, who owns and operated Parker Place, a retail establishment located at 165 E. Main St., in downtown Bartow, shortly after Carson was hospitalized. Together they came up with the idea to sell T-shirts to help raise money to defray medical costs.
Rothrock also created a Facebook page, Carson’s Crusade Against ALL! In addition to seeking contributions, a T-shirt bearing the message “I wear Orange for Carson” is available for a $10 donation by calling 863-286-9244.
The response has been staggering, said Rothrock on Wednesday, Aug. 13, considering she put up the Facebook page on Tuesday, Aug. 12.
“I created it yesterday at 10 a.m., and already we’ve gotten almost 500 people,” she said. “We have people from all over — for example, Buffalo, N.Y., and Alaska — people who don’t even know who we are.”
As of Thursday, Aug. 13, 247 T-shirts had been sold, according to Barwick, with more orders coming in.
“It’s going remarkably well,” said Barwick; incidentally, Parker Place covered the cost of printing the first 150 T-shirts, and one of Carson’s grandparents covered the cost of another $50. However, the cost of printing the shirts is not cheap and if anyone would like to make a contribution to help in that regard to please contact her at 863-534-2697.
“That way, all the money from donations and T-shirt sales can go to Carson and his family.”
Barwick added that she had just been contacted by a women who informed her that she had ordered to have made silicon bracelets and would be paying and shipping them to Barwick; silicon bracelets are the colorful, rubber band-like devices that usually bear a message that people often wear to show support of a cause.
Whether locally or far away, the outpouring has been a source of comfort and strength.
“I can’t thank the community enough,” said Hall. She added that she has found it necessary to recharge her cell phone battery three to four times a day because of the sheer volume of phone calls, texts, emails and the like. As appreciative of the donations, so too are the many prayers.
“That means the world to us, because Carson needs them.”
Want to donate? Purchase a T-shirt?
An account has been set up with the Bartow MidFlorida Credit Union, 5355 U.S. 98; phone: 863-688-3733.
“Please go in and say this is a donation for Carson Fox,” said Rothrock.
To purchase a T-shirt and/or silicon bracelet, call Tonya Barwick at 863-534-2697, or visit Parker Place, 165 E. Main St., downtown Bartow.
Rothrock can also be reached at: email@example.com.
To join in on Facebook, go to Carson’s Crusade Against ALL