On September 8, 2016, my son, Toby Elijah Santos was diagnosed to have Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. Everyone was caught by surprise. No one expected this sweet, naughty little rascal would acquire such a dreaded disease. He was the healthiest kid in the block. He had chubbiest cheeks, rosiest lips, and the most boisterous character. Who would have known? I was in the States for a business affair while all these things were unraveling. Everyone in my family, even my husband, held the information from me until I got back home. Maybe, they thought that it was the best thing to do, considering that I had a few days left over there and I would be home soon, anyway. Toby was not showing any signs of illness. He was his usual self, trying to be a grown up and doing grown up things. He was even trying to work out and lift weights with his Papu (grandpa) the same morning he was rushed to the hospital. That's where we got the idea, "Toby is Strong" because we always tell him to be strong like Papu every time he tries to mimic him doing push-ups. While I was in the States, I was told that Toby was rushed to the hospital, possibly due to Dengue Fever because his platelets were really down. I wasnt all that worried because I knew Toby was a tough kid. I remember, I kind of became suspicious about whats going on, at one point because it took around 4 days for the doctors to know whether it was Dengue or not. All along, they were hiding it from me. Tobys platelets were just 50,000 when he was rushed to the ER. The normal platelet count is 150,000. His count was too low. Our pedia knew right away it was Leukemia. We all love this fearless little man. To me, his spirit is unlike any other kid I know. He is smart and charming and not afraid to try new things and earn a bruise or two. How I wish it was me instead of him After getting his platelets high enough after a series of blood transfusions and platelet transfusions, we started chemo on September 16, 2016. He was taking chemo in just fine. He was already 2 weeks in chemo and he had not once vomited or showed signs of the side effects. He was still eating like a hippo, he was still playing with his toys, he was still screaming like any toddler would; the only difference is probably that he was not as strong as he was and he learned to stay put on his bed. The induction phase is the most intensive and it spans 6 weeks. We only have 6 weeks to flush out the cancer cells. If Toby does not respond well to the chemo, then we may have to extend the induction phase and not transition to the next phase. I was worried for the first 2 weeks. Toby was on steroids, his appetite increased but for some reason his platelet count is still down, his rbc is down, and so is his hemoglobin. It was really very frustrating as if nothing is working. Something inside him must be resisting all the meds. At this point, we had relatives who were willing to help us with the medical bills. Obviously, what I earn is not enough to pay the medical bills. Our first 11 days cost us roughly around Php100, 000.00. I have no idea how we were able to pay that but God provided. More challenges came our way, we no longer did chemo 1x week. Since, Toby didnt respond well, it was now hyped up to 3 sessions a week. Not that easy, since my husband and I needed to work for income to keep the money flowing. It was close to impossible to do that now. Toby has proven how strong he was for taking in all those meds with a strong spirit and a brave heart. We were all confident that he will get through the induction phase like a walk in the park based on his disposition. It was really hard to believe because he looked so normal. He was just like his usual self, only paler and much less energetic, of course. The thing about chemo is that it is the best known cure for cancer, but it kills both good cells and bad cells. It also burns your veins. As you get treated, it is going to get harder and harder for the medical staff to insert an IV line and access your system. Eventually, we would need a porta-cath inserted. Its a central line that goes directly to your heart. It is a minor procedure wherein a port is implanted underneath the skin to act as a central line. I was hesitant to have it done. I am the type of person who does not mind watching gore in TV and the movies but for some reason, I cannot stand any surgical procedure done to my baby. Well, thats being a mother for you, I guess. I even had to consult several people first, my doctor sister and my fellow registered nurses and friends. I also researched about the Pros and Cons. It was hard to accept but it had to be done. Just when things couldnt get any betterNo one was prepared for what was about to happen next. The most horrible thing that can happen to any parent is to see their own child suffer. The IV line on his foot dislodged and the "Dextrose" according to the nursing staff, leaked all over the surrounding tissue causing a spread in infection. It was the eve of my birthday, when my husband informed me about what happened. It all happened too fast! The infection spread in a matter of hours. It started with a bruise formation; and then blisters popped up. Big black bags of fluid developed! My baby was suffering in pain. He could not even sleep. Every time he would shut his eyes, it seemed like a bolt of electricity went through his body every 2 minutes. That's how painful it was to him. It spread from his foot to his leg to his thigh. His thigh got so swollen. We were all helpless. I was very furious! We did everything to ensure that Toby would be free from infection, we made sure that we are clean before we go near Toby, we followed the hand washing technique, we cleaned his toys before we handed them to him, we wore masks and gloves if we needed to. We also made sure that no clothes that were exposed outside the room should go near him. No one with cough or cold is allowed to enter the room. We were that careful and then this happened. It was useless to argue who was to blame for what happened. We didnt have time for that. We just focused all our energy to Toby who needed us the most. Just when we thought we were making progress, then all of this happened, when Tobys WBC count was at its lowest. How timely, his WBC was just .4. Not even 1. He literally had no defense mechanism. He was vulnerable. The infection feasted on him like wildfire. It was so hard to watch him stop being himself. He stopped watching his favorite shows; he no longer played with his cars, he was no longer smiling. He looked sad and in pain. Due to this infection, we had to stop everything. Stop Chemotherapy, delay portacath insertion. We were playing the waiting game, which was so frustrating. We had to depend on 4 very potent antibiotics given simultaneously and wait for a miracle. This went on for a week and it didnt seem to work. The foot and the leg looked necrotic, it smelled horrible and it couldnt stop swelling. His thigh was 3 times its former size. It was harder for us to put his nappy on. Toby was in excruciating pain. We were all just helpless. It was like we were waiting for the infection to eat him alive. No one deserves to see their child suffer like this. Finally, the doctors decided, though hesitantly, to administer the most potent of the most potent antibioticsLinezolid. It costs roughly around Php4,500.00 each and we need to give this 3 x day for 10 days. That will cost us around Php135,000.00 just for this antibiotic alone. We didnt care about how much it would cost us, the important thing right now is to prevent the infection from spreading and save Tobys leg. It was just unbearable for me to even imagine Toby without a leg. He didnt deserve that. No parent would wish that to their child or any child for that matter. Today, October 18, 2016, Toby was operated on. The surgeons had to debride and take out the necrotic tissue on his foot and leg. Now, he has a huge crater on both sites. It looks like he was skinned down to the flesh; It was really shocking to see but it was better than him losing his leg. He is expected to have a skin graft soon to hasten the healing. Given his immune-compromised state, we can only pray to God that he heals well. What we fear now is that the cancer cells may attack anytime soon. He has been out of chemo for over 2 weeks now. His condition is just really unpredictable. You will never know when the cancer cells will hit back. His blood counts are better now, surprisingly, despite stopping chemo, which is a good thing but until when? We are not even done with chemo, we have not even started with the intrathecal procedure to prevent the cancer cells from invading the protective barrier of the brain. We have to wait for the leg to fully heal. We dont even know if his skin graft will survive with his healing process beingmuch slower than a normal persons. We were blindsided by this infection. There really is no smooth way out of cancer. There will always be ups and downs. It IS a roller coaster ride. We dont know how we would get through these 2 years of battling cancer. Its going to be tough physically and financially. Sacrifices have to be made. John, my husband, had to stop working to take care of Toby. I, on the other hand, have to work even if it really hurts me so to be miles away from my baby. We do have relatives who extend help but to exhaust Php 150,000.00 in just a matter of weeks? Its going to wipe us all out good. I am reaching out to your kind hearts. We need all the help that we can get right now. We need money to continue Tobys treatment. Please help our boy fight this battle. Any amount would be greatly appreciated. Please do not hesitate to contact me or my husband on this site or even on Facebook if you wish to extend your help. Here is my contact number: 09173097457. Thank You.#TobyIsStrong. If you wish to follow updates on Toby's case, come vist our facebook page: www.facebook.com/TobyIsStrong. Thank You.