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Young superhero spends half his life conquering cancer

January 17th, 2019 · Leave a Comment

Chase Busby, one of 55 honorees in the Wolfson Children’s Challenge, completes three years of treatment at Wolfson Children’s Hospital

Chase Busby, age 7, is a champion. For nearly half of his young life, Chase has been in the race against cancer. This past October, Chase reached the finish line marking the end of his chemotherapy treatments at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

“Chase is a remarkable boy and has shown so much courage,” said Cassie Busby, Chase’s mom. “He is our superhero and we are so grateful to have reached this milestone with him.”

This past November, Chase returned to Wolfson Children’s Hospital, where he has received treatment for the past three years, for the removal of his chemotherapy port, a device implanted under the skin that makes infusions of medications easier on patients. Before it was removed, Chase had no memory of life without it.

Following his port removal, nearly 100 people attended Chase’s No More Chemo and Birthday Celebration at Village Creek Landing in St. Simons Island, Ga. To mark the end of his treatments, Dreams Come True of Jacksonville presented Chase with a “Last Chemo” trophy, and his first-grade friends at St. Simons Elementary celebrated with him at school.

In January, Chase will be part of another race – the 10th annual Wolfson Children’s Challenge, scheduled for Jan. 26, 2019, at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. Chase is one of 55 children who will be celebrated at the event. The family-friendly fundraising event brings individuals and teams of runners together to hit the pavement in honor of the tens of thousands of children who are cared for by Wolfson Children’s Hospital each year.

An unexpected diagnosis

In 2015 when he was three, Chase was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), which occurs when too many immature white blood cells are produced in the bone marrow and multiply out of control. ALL is the most common type of cancer in children, and its cause is unknown.

Initially, Cassie thought Chase had a stomach virus after he experienced common symptoms on and off for a month. Then things took a serious turn. Cassie was trying to get Chase to eat some cereal when he had a seizure.

Cassie and her husband, Chris, immediately took Chase to the Emergency Care Center at Southeast Georgia Health System’s Brunswick campus, where he was seen by emergency medicine physician Erin Compton, MD. Dr. Compton ordered tests that showed Chase’s blood counts were dangerously low and his body was in septic shock. She recommended Chase be taken to Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville.

The relationship between Southeast Georgia Health System and Wolfson Children’s helped facilitate rapid coordination of care for Chase, who was transferred from Southeast Georgia Health System by the Kids Kare Mobile ICU to Wolfson Children’s. Chase spent three days in Wolfson Children’s pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) where doctors gave him a blood infusion and did further testing.

“At Wolfson Children’s Hospital, we learned there was a chance Chase had leukemia,” said Chris Busby. “As a parent, you never think your child will have cancer. It was the scariest moment of our lives.”

The testing continued for nine days, when doctors arrived at the diagnosis. Chase had so many necrotic cells in his bone marrow that it was difficult to determine if he had leukemia. Necrosis occurs when too little blood flows to the cells and surrounding tissue. In an average adult human, between 50 billion and 70 billion cells die off and are replaced every day, but necrosis refers to cell death that is unprogrammed and results from atypical body conditions, including cancer. This unique situation has only occurred with approximately 20 other children in the U.S. To confirm the diagnosis, doctors had to find viable bone marrow, which they located in his front pelvic area with an MRI.

“It certainly wasn’t the news we wanted to hear,” Chris Busby said. “However, we were relieved to have a diagnosis so Chase could begin treatment.”

Chase’s treatment included chemotherapy given through a port and multiple hospitalizations after chemotherapy. It was challenging for Cassie and Chris to see their son go through treatment.

“Through it all, Chase was brave and never afraid,” Cassie Busby said. “He has been such an inspiration to us.”

“Everyone we met at Wolfson Children’s Hospital was phenomenal,” added Chris Busby. “The doctors and nurses were amazing and did everything they could to make Chase feel comfortable.”

After a month of intense chemotherapy, a bone marrow biopsy showed that Chase was in remission, marking the beginning of the maintenance phase of treatment. Chase then continued chemotherapy for three years to help destroy any remaining cancer cells in his body. The Busbys were grateful for a positive prognosis and began a countdown to when Chase would complete his treatments.

When the maintenance phase of treatment ended in October 2018, Chase had completed more than 1,100 days on chemotherapy, five bone marrow biopsies, 20 spinal taps, 67 IV pushes of chemotherapy, 70 complete blood count tests, and eight different chemotherapy drugs. Chase doesn’t require any further treatment, but he will continue to have bloodwork every month for the next year at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

“This is our family story and we are so grateful to be on the other side of the journey,” Cassie Busby said. “Every day is not a given. This experience has been a big test of our faith, but there have been many blessings, too.”

Chase will attend the Wolfson Children’s Challenge on Jan. 26 with his parents, his sisters, Gracie Jane, 10, and Lily, 8, and supporters of the family’s fundraising team. For the past three years, the family’s Iron Oaks team, organized by the business Chris co-owns – Live Oak Fitness – has led the event’s fundraising. They hope to keep their streak going in 2019. Each year since 2016, Chase has attended the Wolfson Children’s Challenge, except for 2017 when he was receiving care at Wolfson Children’s.

“Our local community has been incredibly supportive,” Chris Busby said. “We appreciate their support for our amazing hospital that serves so many children in our area. Wolfson Children’s Hospital saved our son’s life. We are so thankful to have Wolfson Children’s Hospital within driving distance of our home.”

“Chris and I will always be grateful for Wolfson Children’s Hospital,” added Cassie Busby. “We are grateful we did not have to relocate or split up our family so Chase could receive treatment. We are grateful that our doctors and nurses are some of the best in the Southeast and in the nation. We are grateful for the child life specialists and staff who work so hard to keep hospitalized children’s spirits up. I didn’t realize how important it was to have a good children’s hospital close by until our little boy needed it.”

Wolfson Children’s Hospital needs your help to ensure every child continues to receive the world-class care they deserve. There are many ways to get involved in the Wolfson Children’s Challenge and support the children served by Wolfson Children’s Hospital. Visit www.wolfsonchildrenschallenge.com.

Wolfson Children’s Hospital provides pediatric cancer services in partnership with Nemours Children’s Specialty Care, Jacksonville and the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville.

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