Almost any parent of a child with cancer can recall a moment they felt something “wasn’t quite right.” For Alyssa Rocque of Neenah, one of those moments occurred Memorial Day Weekend 2018 as her family enjoyed time at the lake.
“Temperatures had soared into the 90s that weekend, but our son, Riley, was shivering cold with a fever,” recalled Alyssa.
Alyssa’s feelings of uncertainty were confirmed when days later, Riley, 8, continued to battle a fever, body aches and night sweats despite medication, rest and a doctor’s visit.
When blood tests revealed Riley’s illness could be related to leukemia, he was immediately referred to the pediatric hematology-oncology clinic at HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital in Green Bay. Less than two weeks after the Rocque family was enjoying Memorial Day weekend at the lake, they were handed a devastating diagnosis: acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL.
“You never think that something like this is going to happen to you,” said Alyssa. “It just didn’t seem fair.”
Riley, despite his young age, had already had his fair share of health challenges. He was born with a rare birth deformity in his right shoulder that required major reconstructive surgery when he was just 4 years old. As Riley and his family coped with the cancer diagnosis, they found comfort in the compassion and care shown to them at HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital.
“When we met Riley’s doctors, we were immediately comfortable with them,” said Alyssa. “Dr. Brandt talks to me like I’m his friend. He makes it all so much easier to understand.”
Alyssa also praises the hospital’s Child Life Specialists for their extraordinary work in making patients, like Riley, as well as patients’ families, feel more comfortable and at ease during hospital visits.
“I don’t know what we would do without them,” said Alyssa. “They are always there to provide Riley a toy or stuffed animal, to play a game, or to walk him through a procedure or treatment so that he knows what will happen every step of the way.”
Today, Riley continues to visit HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital as an outpatient to receive chemotherapy treatments. He is expected to finish treatment in 2022. Alyssa says she will forever be grateful for the compassionate and exceptional care that Riley is able to receive so close to home.
“To HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital and all those who take such great care of Riley, I would say: ‘Thank you for being here for us and making us feel like family.’”
As the only children’s hospital in Green Bay, HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital is committed to the exceptional care of children, like Riley, and to the fight against the childhood illnesses and injuries. As part of a nonprofit, Catholic-based health care system, HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital provides care to all who need it – regardless of their ability to pay. You can help. Join the Fight and donate today to a community fundraising campaign that will allow HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital to upgrade its facilities and expand spaces specifically designed for children.