My name is Aliza Settecase and I am a mom to three beautiful children, Jakob (3.5 years old), AnnaSophia (2 years old) & Lukas (10 month old.) I never saw myself as being a stay at home mom, but I was thrust into the role when I lost my job at 35 weeks pregnant with my second born, AnnaSophia. At the time I was angry with my company for putting my family in this situation at such an inopportune time, as I was the SOLE bread winner for our family at the time, but God knew better. I have absolutely LOVED staying at home with our kids and feel blessed by my new role.
That being said the road has not been an easy one for me and my family. After losing my job, Joel, who was in seminary full time, was able to find a full time position at a church in Plainfield, called Grace Pointe. It was such a HUGE blessing to our family from the very beginning. After giving birth to AnnaSophia they prepared meals for us and even helped us move to our new place in Aurora! What a church, right? Well the Lord was already teaching us to lean on our church body, because we would need help. Not even two months after we moved, our son, Jakob (18 months at the time) received a bacteria infection that landed him in the hospital for two nights and eventually needing surgery! AnnaSophia was only two months at the time, so it was a really tough time. Praise God Jakob recovered beautifully and we were able to move forward.
Fast forward 6 months or so, I became pregnant with Lukas and at my first OB appointment I found out I had a Thyroid cancer! Obviously this was a whirlwind for us as I had to get my thyroid removed at 20 weeks pregnant and then the process of trying to stabilize my thyroid levels so that I recovered well was tough. As you can imagine, we were again abundantly blessed with tons of help and load of prayer, but it was hard. My recovery has been going beautifully, to the point that I was able to hold off on my treatment of Radioactive Iodine, so that I could nurse Lukas for at least his full year.
I share all of this with you, not to get you to feel sorry for me and my family, but for you to see that even though we have been put through the ringer as a family, we have kept our trust in the Lord Jesus to provide for all of our needs–and He has! Also, I share this with you to point to the fact that the Lord used each one of those prior trials to prepare us for the trial in front of us right now.
On Thursday, June 18th we found out that our 10 month old, Lukas William, has Leukemia. A lot of you have asked how did I know that something was wrong, or how did they diagnose this, so I will tell you. Lukas had a low grade fever that had started the prior Friday night, but I thought nothing of it. I assumed it was just teething or something. He even went in the nursery on the first day of our churches VBS (Vacation Bible School) and he did great!
Then later Monday evening his fever spiked and he started batting at his ears, so I decided I would take him in to see if he had an ear infection. I took him to our doctors clinic and waited for a little while and noticed that he looked perfect, so I actually decided to leave(!). I didn’t want to pay $80 just for them to say he is fine! Ridiculous right? But with trying to manage a family of five’s budget with one income, well, some of you can relate. 🙂
Anyway, not even a half an hour later he started getting super fussy and irritable, so I gave him Tylenol and was able to get him down, but I decided that if he was still upset when he woke I would take him to the ER to make sure he was ok. When he woke up he was still really irritable, so I took him in.
Sure enough the ER doctor said that everything looked fine, except a little additional ear wax, so I should just up his Tylenol & Motrin intake (I had been under-dosing), and he should be fine. I didn’t think that was the cause, but I decided to try it.
Wednesday morning he had a 103 temp and was still super irritable, plus I noticed a weird, orange, crystal like spotting in his diaper. I looked up the diaper and found that it may have been due to dehydration or UTI. So, I decided to supplement my breast feeding with a bottle of mama’s milk. I also tried some home remedies to relieve his ears from all the ear wax. I tried olive oil & a saline flush. I think that they actually worked, but his fever was still super high and he was still very irritable, which is out of character for him. So, I decided that I would take him back to the ER on Thursday morning.
When we got to the ER, I present the diaper with the orange like crystals to show them and told them I though that he may have a UTI. They said that he looked totally fine, but I made sure that they got a urine sample before they sent me on my way. Because of his age, they had to do a catheter, but it was unsuccessful! NOTHING came out, which was strange.
So, they bagged his penis to get a sample of his pee, when he eventually went.
In the meantime they also got an X-ray to see if the cause was in his chest. The X-ray came back clean, but he had still not peed! Mind you, it had now been hours!
The doctor said, “I think that it is just viral, so you can just go home, but I insisted that we would not leave before receiving a sample of his urine, so they hooked him up to an IV and took his blood. The blood reports came back and the doctor said right at that time, that she thought that it might be leukemia. It was shocking to hear, considering I went in thinking that it was merely dehydration or a Urinary Tract Infection, to now hearing “the L word!”
We were then transported by ambulance to Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, to find out for sure if he had cancer and get treatment. When Lukas and I arrived, we first went to the Emergency Department where they did additional test to confirm that it was in fact Leukemia. We also found out that it was ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.) I was so grateful that my sisters, Susannah & Jackie, were there during that, because it was a lot to take in.
We have now been in the hospital for going on 5 nights, but we are going to be discharged either tomorrow or Wednesday! Now that doesn’t mean that we are going home, but we will be able to be outpatient. Lukas and I will be going to the Ronald McDonald house and staying there for the next month or so, and Joel and the older kids will be splitting their time between our new home in Aurora and staying with family in Chicago.
Throughout all this, we have been absolutely overwhelmed by all the generosity that we have already received and the abundance of prayers. We serve and awesome God and I am confident that Lukas will beat this thing. I am almost falling asleep as I type this, so I am going to get to bed. I will try to keep you up on the updates, but keep fervently praying for this little man.