Skyler Barfoot, the four year old with a mystery illness has received a diagnosis after more than two months in a Vancouver medical centre.
Skyler has been diagnosed with what is known as Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).
ALL is a type of blood cancer that is most commonly found in young children between the age of two and five. It affects the bone marrow of the patient and can spread to other areas of the body.
Skyler has been receiving treatment at the B.C. Children’s Hospital where he has been staying with his mother Kristy Barfoot since October.
Skyler’s mother said that Skyler’s illness took a long time to diagnose,
“The diagnosis took over a month because [the illness] didn’t follow any specific pattern.”
Because of the difficulty in diagnosing Skyler, samples of his blood, bone marrow and lymph nodes were sent for testing by the B.C. Cancer Agency and when they couldn’t diagnose the illness, samples were sent to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States.
Skyler has been receiving treatment since early November that includes four different types of chemotherapy, anti-leukaemia steroids and three bone marrow biopsies.
Barfoot said that some of the treatments have caused Skyler to be in a lot of pain so much so that he has a difficult time turning over in bed. She also said that the steroids he’s on have caused mood swings.
“He will go from sad to angry to happy and back to sad all within a minute.”
Despite all of this, Skyler’s illness has a high cure rate amongst childhood cancers. ALL has a more than 80 per cent cure rate among childhood patients compared to only a 20 to 40 per cent cure rate among adult patients.
Barfoot hopes to eventually be able to move Skyler’s treatment to Prince George where it would be more affordable and closer to home but Skyler’s condition is such that this is not yet a possibility.
“As it stands right now, Skyler isn’t stable enough to be sent to Prince George because they do not have the same resources they have here,” said Barfoot. “They have a whole team of doctors and nurses here that are specifically trained for childhood cancer so right now this is the safest place for Skyler to be.”
Because Barfoot only recently left maternity leave, she is not yet eligible to apply for employment insurance and because she is living at the hospital she’s not able to work.
Barfoot has been relying on the money raised in October to help cover the costs of treatment. The Nak’azdli health centre has also been helping the family out with money from their patient travel department.
“I am truly grateful for everything that has been done for us,” Barfoot said. “It has helped so much.”
Barfoot said that this ordeal has been a tremendous challenge saying that no child should have to go through this kind of illness.
“It forces them to grow up too fast and makes you feel helpless,” she said. “If I could trade places with my son I would in a heartbeat.”
Barfoot is incredibly humble saying that with all that has been done for them she feels it would be selfish to ask for more, but is asking that people keep Skyler in their thoughts and their prayers.