Never did I think that I’d be writing something quite like this. As an undergrad at Western Illinois University I was accepted into the AmeriCorps Early Childhood Literacy Program that placed me at Skip-a-Long preschool in Moline Illinois. Toward the end of my internship I was hired on and later given a full-time position. I became Miss Stephanie for the Penguin room. With this position I would be a teacher for two-year-old children and when they turned three they’d move into the older wing.
One of the children brought into not only my room, but my life was Caiden Mendez. My little Baby Zachary Quinto/Baby Spock. Not only did this bring Caiden into my life, but his family as well. His grandmother an active role in his life as his mother, like me, was a young mother. Both of them worked very closely with us in his care at the center and in big moments like potty training and field trips! It is such a great feeling to be a part of a family, even if it’s merely through an extension –a job. A position more associated with my education took me away from the daycare. However, I always thought of “my babies” and wished them well; assuming all was well.
When I found out on April 30th through a GoFundMe page that Caiden was diagnosed with Leukemia I was not only in disbelief, but I felt so helpless. Something that seemed a simple ear infection turned out to be a long-lasting and life changing illness for this three-year-old boy. Three-year-olds are supposed to get bumps and bruises and owies –not Leukemia! The following is from his GoFundMe page:
“It all started off on a Tuesday with a fever and an ear infection. Doctors told us that he was fighting the ear infection very well! Later on that week, after giving him a bath I had noticed bruises on his back, and purple little spots all over his body. My mom being an RN told me to keep checking on it, if it doesn’t go away to take him to the doctor. Well, 2 days later he spiked a fever in the middle of the night. Later that morning started to puke. I took him into the walk-in clinic, they did a strep throat test, blood tests, and a urine test. His strep came back positive, and his blood tests came back very bad. His white cells were VERY high, and his platelets and hemoglobin came back VERY low. The doctors said that this is very suspicious and they have no diagnosis, therefore they will be sending us to Peoria to make sure it isn’t leukemia. HOW?! He was so healthy a week before this all happened! When we showed up to Peoria hospital they did blood tests also, and yes Caiden Shane Mendez has leukemia. 3 years old with leukemia. Please send prayers. Thank you all so much. Love Caiden and McKenzie”
I’ve been sharing his story as much as possible on every page and platform I have. I started feverishly Googling Leukemia grants and resources and sending them to his family and offering my assistance with whatever I can. I ask everyone that if you cannot donate to please share his story and his page. If you can donate even $10 helps. In 19 hours 39 people have together raised $2,410. If you have any resources or can help in any other way don’t hesitate to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will pass it along to his family. Please help in the Cure for Caiden.