Bashing Cancer: D.J. Flowers, 4 (B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia)
D.J. Flowers is still going through maintenance treatment for leukemia, but from the energy and spirit he exudes, you would never guess it. He was diagnosed with the blood cancer at age 3 in February 2017 after he complained of leg pain and his mom, Shandra Flowers, noticed swelling on one side of his face and his privates. The diagnosis took a trail of doctor appointments with his primary care provider, a urologist and others.
But once the leukemia was confirmed, doctors quickly developed a three and a half year roadmap for his treatment. The plan began with surgery to put a port in where D.J. would receive the chemotherapy. He went through six months of intense treatment, which put him into remission, and is now following that with two and a half years of maintenance treatment.
What do you remember about your hospital stays?
My favorite part is waiting for the nurse and playing with my cars and putting them all over the bed. And I like to look at the train and go down the slides.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A firefighter like my daddy.
What makes you feel like a superhero?
Muscles and being fast.
D.J.’s mom, Shandra
What was the hardest part of D.J.’s treatment and diagnoses for you?
The hardest thing for me is just that it’s an interruption of your life. Cancer is one of those gut-wrenching words. With him being so young and the magnitude of the word, it’s a lot. I’m a nurse so I’ve seen a lot of stuff but it was hard just trying to link between cancer and a 3 year old.
Why should people attend the Superhero Dash-N-Bash?
It’s an experience to see the kids and the survivors. It’s almost like it gives you hope if you’re going through it and it celebrates the journey as well.
What do you wish people understood about kids who have cancer?
They’re still normal kids. They’re still going to do kid things. Don’t just put the label of cancer on them because there’s more to them. They still like to do the things they did before (they were diagnosed).
A Parent’s Perspective
“I appreciated how, when he first got diagnosed, they allowed everybody in our family to be a part of his (treatment) plan. With my older daughter they took her to the side and explained everything at her level and I just thought that was so cool. She was 11 at the time so she didn’t understand … it was beneficial for our family to understand his process.”
- D.J.’s mom, Shandra Flowers