In 2004 Benjamin Rohr was an active, happy, healthy third grader at the Haverford School. One evening, after refusing to brush his teeth, I decided to help him get the job done. As I held his tiny face to help with this task, I felt a bump under his chin......After initial blood tests, it was determined he had a simple case of mono. We were told his lymph nodes would get a little swollen, but there was no course of treatment, so we’d have to wait it out and return in two weeks. In the meantime, Benjamin felt fine!
As the week progressed, his lymph nodes swelled a little more each day. We couldn’t imagine this was normal, so back to the doctor’s office with more questions. Finally it was suggested that we go to Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, to see an oncologist. After several weeks of blood tests, x-rays and ultimately, a lymph node biopsy and bone marrow biopsy, Benjamin was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The news was so overwhelming for our family. We had to admit him immediately for treatment- to begin that day. Benjamin began a new chapter of his life’s unpredictable story. It would include three and a half years of chemotherapy, and several hospital stays. During this journey, The Haverford School and community shone brightly. While Benjamin lost his hair, and missed many days of school, his friends and classmates stood by him. Mrs. Hullhorst’s third grade class had a “Hat Day“ in support of Ben- It was adorable! A classmate went to the extreme – and shaved his whole head! The teachers even sent materials to the hospital so that Ben could stay up-to-date on his daily schoolwork… Every boy’s dream… Dinners were arranged by many parents and families. The whole school community surrounded us with concern, prayers, and caring support.
This story has a happy ending in that Benjamin is about to celebrate his sixteenth birthday. He was declared cured in March 2009! As we look back on that difficult time, the pain of the situation has eased, but the love and support that we received from family and friends, and even strangers, burns brighter every passing day. Each minute of every day is special, and Ben and our family are determined to enjoy each and every one!
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