A year ago, Connor Egan was undergoing chemotherapy treatments for bone cancer, spending numerous nights at Children’s and using a wheelchair to get around. Today he is a healthy 9-year-old who recently contributed a colorful drawing to the Give Kids a Hand mural planned for Children’s new facility — Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. The mosaic mural will recognize Give Kids a Hand donors like Connor’s dad, Tim.
“Children’s saved my son’s life,” says Tim. “A year ago at this time we were just praying that he would live. Now he’s doing great.”
When he was 8, Connor, an athletic kid who loves baseball, began complaining of pain in his right leg and developed a knot below his knee. Tim recalls driving in his car when Connor’s mom, Heidi, called him from their pediatrician’s office. “I knew it was bad news when she said, ‘Pull over,’” says Tim. “Then she said, ‘They think he has cancer.’”
The knot below Connor’s knee was diagnosed as osteosarcoma, or bone cancer. He would need to begin chemotherapy as soon as possible and would also require surgery to remove most of the fibula bone in his lower right leg. Depending on what they found, doctors advised the family that they might need to amputate Connor’s leg.
Connor’s parents chose Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders for his oncology care. Two weeks after his diagnosis he began an eight-month regimen of chemo under the direction of oncologist David Walterhouse, MD.
Children’s is the region’s largest provider of pediatric hematology/oncology services and provides care for more than 2,700 children and adolescents with cancer or blood disorders each year.
Connor underwent surgery to remove a large tumor and two of three blood vessels in his leg and surgeons were able to save the limb. His dad says Connor was hospitalized more than 80 times and missed half of third grade.
“We’d be at Children’s for three or four days for chemo and then go home,” says Tim. “And after we got home there was always the chance we would need to take him back to the hospital because of his low red blood cell count."
Nine months after completing his chemo treatments, diagnostic tests indicate that Connor is cancer-free. He continues to have regular follow-up visits with Dr. Walterhouse and also sees cardiologist Katheryn Gambetta, MD.
“Connor is a very brave kid,” says Tim. “That’s not to say that there weren’t times when he became discouraged, especially from the side effects of chemo. But Connor is just a great kid — a 10 out of 10.”
In appreciation for the care his son received, Tim made a gift to the Give Kids a Hand program to add Connor’s name to one of the tiles that make up the special mosaic mural at Lurie Children’s.
“Children’s has had such a tangible impact on kids’ lives,” says Tim. “Giving to help others is important because we’re all interconnected. Everyone is dependent on someone else at some point. By opening up your heart, mind and wallet you can make a difference in a child’s life.”
Your gift of $1,000 or more to Give Kids a Hand will help complete Lurie Children’s, ensuring the best healthcare possible for Chicago’s kids. You can give now or start fundraising as an individual or as a team. In gratitude, a child’s artwork with your name (or the name of your honoree) will be placed on a tile as part of a mosaic mural on the first floor of Lurie Children’s. This special opportunity is limited to the first 2,500 donors, so reserve your tile today.