MEET ROURKE WACHOLZ
Rourke is a typical 6-year-old boy. He loves dinosaurs, playing outside, camping, fishing, going on the pontoon and spending time with family and learning.
On March 27, 2021, it was confirmed Rourke had B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. A spinal tap showed it to be a high-risk form requiring cranial radiation. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL, is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. The disease progresses rapidly and creates immature blood cells, rather than mature ones.
On a Tuesday, Rourke woke up and complained his foot hurt. We didn’t think much of it until he wouldn’t walk on it Wednesday night and resorted to being carried to the bathroom and crawling from place to place. I messaged his orthopedic doctor on Thurs and the doctor wanted to see him. X-rays showed mild swelling, so they ordered labs to see if his C-reactive protein was elevated thinking it may be osteomyelitis, a bone infection.
Labs came back and everything was low, just the opposite of what they were expecting. With osteomyelitis out of the picture, we were told to go home, and doctors would contact us the following day with the rest of his results. Results came back and Rourke’s hemoglobin was about 5, typically 10-12. Everything related to his red blood count was abnormally low, except the size of the cells were abnormally large.
Doctors called and said we needed to get Rourke to the emergency department. Ortho had already contacted peds oncology who came and saw us in the ED. Rourke was admitted and a bone marrow aspiration/biopsy was scheduled for the next morning to confirm.
Rourke was treated aggressively in an attempt to hit the cancer hard and fast. This meant the first 12 months or so, Rourke had a rigorous treatment plan. He has currently been on this journey for 26 months. If all goes according to the plan, he will need maintenance treatment for the next 15 mos. to make sure the cancer stays in remission.