When your son has cancer: Support helps family stay positive

When your son has cancer: Support helps family stay positive

By Jean Waverka

Noah Frey has always been fast on his feet, running whenever possible. But since the three-year-old Bainbridge resident was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in January 2023, he’s been forced to slow down while he receives therapy at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.

The adjustment has been difficult for Noah and his family. Just two weeks before his diagnosis, he had been treated for a suspected ear infection. When he didn’t bounce back after completing his antibiotics, his parents made an appointment with his regular pediatrician. Concerned by his lack of energy and pale coloring, she recommended taking Noah to the emergency department at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for immediate bloodwork.

“My husband and I were thinking he might be anemic. He had all the signs and symptoms,” Cayla Frey remembers. “I thought he’d need some blood or iron, and we’d go home. A couple of hours later, I could see the doctors huddled outside the room. I had a feeling there was something more going on.”

Noah’s blood tests revealed that he likely had leukemia and would need a bone marrow test to confirm the diagnosis.

“That whole night was a lot for us to take in,” Frey remembered. “It was completely devastating.”

With his diagnosis confirmed, Noah’s doctors explained his treatment plan and what to expect. The next day they placed his port and started chemotherapy, which is administered in cycles of treatment days with rest days.

“We’ve never had a doubt that he was getting the best care,” Frey said. “His doctors and nurses, everyone, have been so great at explaining everything and being there for us.”

That includes the Child Life staff who help Noah through his treatments, the financial support of Four Diamonds and the Freys’ family and friends who are ready to provide whatever is needed.

“The amount of support we’ve had has been amazing and overwhelming,” Frey said. “We take Noah’s treatment day by day, but what helps the most is keeping a positive attitude and encouraging each other.”