Walker boy diagnosed with cancer celebrates birthday with neighbors

WALKER — Walker resident Anna Terrell took to Facebook to ask her neighbors to put signs in their yards to celebrate her son’s sixth birthday last week.

Terrell’s neighbors went the extra mile and helped plan a birthday parade for young Anthony. People from the Lakes at Fennwood subdivision showed up to celebrate Anthony, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in March.

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow, according to the Mayo Clinic. Acute lymphocytic leukemia is the most common type of cancer in children, and treatments result in a good chance for a cure. Acute lymphocytic leukemia can also occur in adults, though the chance of a cure is significantly reduced.

“He had been having pain in his wrist, and it went from that to seeing a noticeable deformity to both forearms,” Terrell recalled. “I brought him to the doctor, and she did an x-ray and labs. Then we got results saying it was possibly cancerous.”

“I got in touch with friends who got me in touch with a pediatric orthopedic doctor,” she continued. “His lymph nodes were swollen. The ortho said it isn’t cancer; it can wait. Then, he ran a fever and had a huge knot on him. At this point, I said we need to reevaluate.”

Anthony’s diagnosis signaled changes for the family. Since March, they’ve spent time going back and forth between Baton Rouge and Memphis for his treatments, which will not be completed until March 2025.

“I’m overwhelmed,” she said.” I have two other kids, and it wasn’t an option where I couldn’t come back from Memphis. I have a senior in high school, and my daughter is in third grade. It’s sad; you don’t want that for your kid and you want to be able to protect them. As a healthcare professional, I’m stuck with mixed emotions, to help the nurses and help him. I have to hold him down so he doesn’t move or jerk. It hits you harder because there isn’t anything he did to ask for it. He’s six. It’s terrible.”

For the parade, cars lined the streets to wish Anthony a happy birthday.

Terrell said Anthony is handling the situation well, considering what’s happening.

“Physically, he is doing good,” she said. “The mental part is come and go. He understands he has to have it for two years. Every once in a while, he’ll get a sad face and say, ‘Mom, I don’t really want to have cancer anymore,’ and it breaks you. He has his moments where he gets frustrated and annoyed. He does things he doesn’t want to do, and he has to. He can’t do normal things kids can do. Overall, for his age, he has a pretty good attitude about it.”

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