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Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
Kai Hawkins

On April 7, 2018, Zane and Erika Hawkins heard words no parent wants to hear. Their 2-year-old son, Kai, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. In the days before Kai’s diagnosis, he ran a high fever and lost his appetite. A visit to the Hawkinses’ local hospital emergency room revealed Kai’s bloodwork was off and the family was referred to Children’s of Alabama for more testing.

The Hawkinses are a few months into what will be a three-year treatment journey for Kai, but they are confident in the skilled and compassionate team of doctors at Children’s and grateful for the support of family and friends. Kai undergoes treatment at Children’s once a week, then will transition to once-a-month maintenance therapy. The significance of showing kindness and understanding toward strangers isn’t lost on the Hawkinses. Zane, a firefighter, and Erica, a nurse, are well versed in helping others in times of need. Being on the receiving end of help is new territory for the family, but they are thankful for the caring souls seeing them through the ups and downs.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic from the second we walked in the door,” Zane said of Children’s. “The nurses are awesome on 8 Quarterback [Children’s hematology-oncology inpatient unit] and in Clinic 8 [Children’s hematology-oncology specialty care outpatient clinic], and our doctors keep us well-informed. We have a lot of face-to-face interaction.”

Another incredibly encouraging sign is Kai being Kai. He loves the outdoors and prefers spending time riding his tricycle, jumping on the trampoline or splashing in the pool. “He plays from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed,” Zane said.

“He’s not afraid of anything. If anybody can beat this, it’ll be him for sure,” Zane said. “He’s as tough as they come.”
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