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Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
Liam Ledbetter-Dunn

Liam Ledbetter-Dunn would return home from daycare with bruises thought to be the result of toddler horseplay. But when Liam’s bruises worsened, parents Brian and Shane Ledbetter-Dunn were proactive in scheduling an appointment with Liam’s hometown pediatrician in Auburn, Alabama. A bloodwork test revealed Liam, then 2 ½ , had childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) – a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Symptoms of ALL include fever and bruising, bone pain, fatigue, petechiae (tiny purple, red or brown spots on the skin), loss of appetite and night sweats.

“That afternoon we were at Children’s of Alabama,” Brian said. “Liam’s pediatrician completed her studies at Children’s and we were directly referred.” Brian also grew up in Alexander City, Alabama, the hometown of Benjamin Russell – the namesake of Children’s state-of-the-art Fifth Avenue building in Birmingham. For the Ledbetter-Dunns, Children’s was a no-brainer.

The family was met by a team of doctors and nurses who have since become an extended family. Due to Liam’s low platelet count, he wore a special helmet while in the hospital to prevent injuries and bleeding. The family has been in and out of the hospital over the course of Liam’s chemotherapy treatment, and has approached every hurdle with optimism, gratitude, faith and humor. The Ledbetters sometimes refer to Children’s as “The Chilton” – a spin on the Hilton hotel chain and a nod to their overnight stays at Children’s. Liam also had the opportunity to go on a camp adventure at Smile-A-Mile, a Children’s partner that provides year-round programs for children diagnosed with cancer.

Now 5 years old, Liam is no longer in the hospital, but undergoes maintenance chemotherapy. His last treatment is scheduled for October 26, 2018. “Being a parent and walking into this situation for the first time, we were in scary, freak-out mode. We didn’t know what ALL was,” Brian said. “But the staff at Children’s has been behind us all the way.”

Brian recalled spending Halloween and Thanksgiving in the hospital. The nurses made an effort to make the holidays special for the family, bringing Liam gifts and Brian and Shane a home cooked meal. And that meant the world, as did the well wishes from the Auburn community and Children’s employees from the Auburn area who offered their support.

“It was the right the decision to come to Children’s,” Brian said.
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