Titus was admitted to Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart the same day, where pieces of the puzzle started coming together. Testing confirmed that the fatigue and easy bleeding were symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, one of the most common childhood cancers of the blood and bone marrow that affect the white blood cells. He was prepped for surgery to implant a chemotherapy port.
In the span of 24-hours, their whole world changed. “In a way, it was a blessing that it happened so fast because we didn’t have time to process what was happening,” she said. “We were able to take it one day at a time.”
Every month since his diagnosis, Titus has been admitted to the hospital for treatment or observation. The feeling of isolation and frustration that can be common in kids who are hospitalized went away after being transferred to the new Bear Family Foundation Pediatric Oncology Center for Hope that opened in May.
The pediatric oncology center was designed to be a comfortable, welcoming, homelike environment that allows families to be together when they need each other most. Almost half of the 11,500 square-foot space is devoted to accommodations such as a play area, family room, movie room, laundry room and respite rooms.
Located on the first floor of the Children’s Hospital, the center brings together highly specialized clinicians and team members who can address the unique medical needs of children facing cancer, and support their families every step of the way. The center was made possible through a $1.75 million donation from the Bear Family Foundation.
Desiree said the new pediatric oncology center has quickly become their home away from home. Their family can share time together while eating meals in the family room or watching movies in the movie room ‒ moments of normalcy that Desiree said they took for granted before his leukemia diagnosis 10 months ago. Titus recently marked his 16th birthday surrounded by friends and family.
Desiree said the care, caring and compassion her son has received at Children’s Hospital have been second to none. “We love this hospital and couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”
For more information about the Bear Family Foundation Pediatric Oncology Center for Hope, visit https://healthcare.ascension.org/locations/florida/flpen/pensacola-bear-family-foundation-pediatric-oncology-center-for-hope.