Colton Strong: Toddler battles cancer, Monroe County community provides support and awareness – 41NBC News
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MACON, Georgia (41NBC / WMGT) – Nobody wants to hear a cancer diagnosis, especially their three-year-old. That’s the situation for 41NBC Managing Editor / Producer Clay Poulnott and his family in Monroe County.
A few weeks before his fourth birthday, his son Colton was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma in early March. Lymphoblastic lymphoma is one of the most common cancers in children, affecting cells of the immune system and can spread throughout the body. This cancer usually affects older children or teenagers, and boys more than girls. Cancer studies show that it is not hereditary and is not linked to anything from the environment.
“I’ve prayed a lot,” said Clay Poulnott. “He gave me a lot of comfort, a lot of rest.”
Clay and his wife Rachel worried about Colton’s breathing at first. They say doctors treated Colton for an upper respiratory infection. But when the steroids were off, he still had trouble breathing. X-rays and CT scans later showed a large mass near Colton’s throat, nearly crushing his airways.
“It’s unbearable,” said Rachel Poulnott. “You are living your worst nightmare.”
Doctors took Colton by ambulance to Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta, Egleston Hospital. He was placed in Intensive Care on Monday. On Wednesday, he was given oxygen to help him breathe.
“If we didn’t do anything for whatever reason or if it took longer in the hospital, I don’t know if he’d been alive for two more days,” Clay said.
Dr. Frank Keller is treating Colton in Egleston. He says four to five of every 100,000 American children will develop lymphoblastic lymphoma. It’s not known what causes it, and it usually appears as a mass, most likely in the chest. Symptoms include a cough or shortness of breath. But it has passed off as asthma at times.
“It’s probably a good idea to get a chest X-ray to make sure it’s something other than asthma because it’s something that’s easily visible on a chest X-ray,” said Dr. Keller. “As it grows, it can increasingly create a life-threatening situation because those are important structures such as your breathing tubes, your heart, and blood vessels.”
After five days in the ICU, Colton moved to the hospital’s cancer floor and Rachel shared the news on social media. Then more friends and family joined their fight against cancer in an effort to help the family and spread awareness about childhood cancer.
“When I saw that post, when I was a mother myself, I burst into tears,” said family friend and neighbor Maria Allen. “I want to do for them what I hope others would do for me.”
Allen coordinated fundraisers with local restaurants and collected gift cards and donations. Katie Bradberry, an old family friend, got creative too. She helped design “Colton Strong” rubber bracelets, car badges and T-shirts. She says the items raised more than $ 3,000 to help the family with medical bills and other expenses. Each item features the words ‘Colton Strong’, the childhood cancer ribbon and a tank.
After 17 days in hospital, Colton was released two days before his birthday. The family went home and were greeted with unexpected love and support.
“People you don’t even know and probably never will – who you’ll never meet – are just willing to help wherever they can,” Clay said. “It makes the hair on my arms stand up.”
Companies brought food. A “Colton Strong Go Fund Me page” raised more than $ 12,000. The front yards were covered with “Colton Strong” signs. And the Mary Persons High School football team even came by to give Colton a helmet.
Clay says his son’s battle with cancer is far from over. He tells his son that there is a ball in his throat and that he has to take his medicine to get it out. Colton will undergo two years of treatment. And his second, more intense, chemotherapy starts next week.
See more ways to help the Poulnott family KT Deanna on Facebook to order T-shirts, bracelets and car emblems. You can also visit it Colton Strong Go Fund Me page