A southwest Georgia boy is in need of prayers as he fights a rare form of pediatric cancer.
In fall 2014, Kraig and Brittany Vickers learned they were pregnant with a baby boy, but, at 20-weeks, they found out their son had a hole in his heart (VSD). That’s when they were referred to the Sibley Heart Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Egleston location.
Once the couple arrived in Atlanta, their baby was also diagnosed with several other heart-related issues, including aortic stenosis and coarctation of the aorta.
On March 17, 2015, Kraig and Brittany welcomed Evan Knox Vickers to the world. He weighed 7 pounds, 14 ounces and was 21 inches long.
“We knew early in my pregnancy that Evan would be a fighter,” Brittany said.
Evan came into the world with multiple heart defects and underwent open-heart surgery at just 6-days-old. It was a life-saving procedure, but the surgery left him with brain damage, physical and developmental delays and feeding difficulties.
“Despite all things, Evan laughed, played and smiled every day,” his mother said.
Four months after Evan’s first birthday, he was doing really well, and cardiologists cleared him as a “normal” little boy.
“As a parent to a ‘heart baby,’ this is the best, most terrifying day of your life,” Brittany said. “We were relieved that Evan was well enough to receive clearance, but scared to death not to see our cardiologist every month.”
However, in September 2016, six months after Evan’s birthday, Brittany and her husband’s world came crashing down again when their son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
“His tumor was removed two days before his 18-month birthday,” Brittany said. “He was diagnosed with cancer and in remission just seven weeks later.”
Evan’s mother said the quick recovery was amazing, but this January, the cancer relapsed, and he’s been in and out of the hospital ever since.
“The tumor came back fast and furious,” Brittany said. “This time it was occupying 50 to 60 percent of his abdominal area and was classified as Stage 4, high risk”
“He has a long road ahead with battles that no child should ever have to fight, but he’s tough,” Brittany said. “He’s fought every single day of his life with a smile on his face.”
Evan is receiving chemotherapy treatments every three weeks at the Aflac Cancer Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He normally stays at the hospital for five days at a time, and is scheduled to begin his fourth round of chemo on Monday.
“I’m certain there is nobody in the world, child or adult, that could handle it any better than Evan has,” Brittany told FOX 5. “He’s been amazing, an absolute champion!”
As Evan completed his third round of chemotherapy, he managed to stay playful, keeping a smile on his face; however, he was quickly transported back to Atlanta last week due to having critically low hemoglobin levels. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells which carries oxygen throughout the body.
Doctors moved Evan to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) after he spiked a dangerously high fever and had a seizure.
“Evan is still neutropenic, meaning he has no immune system to fight this off,” Brittany said on the “Fight Like Evan” Facebook page.
Brittany told FOX 5 Evan is getting better and starting breathing without any oxygen support last Thursday night.
“His blood work still isn’t great, but he has improved drastically,” Brittany said on Monday. “He’s almost back to his normal, playful self.”
Evan’s doctors were able to move him out of the PICU and back to a regular room on the AFLAC oncology floor, but were unable to get rid of his infection. He remains at the hospital recovering.
“It’s the hardest thing we’ve ever been through, without a doubt, but as parents, it softens the blow a little to see Evan fighting this with such a positive attitude,” Brittany said.
The Vickerses are from Leary, Georgia, which is a small town about an hour from Albany, and four hours from Atlanta. Brittany told FOX 5 they’ve spent more time in Atlanta this year than they have in their own home.
“We also have a 12-week-old little boy who’s been forced into a life of following Evan up and down the state for treatments,” Brittany said. “They’ve both been troopers though.”
Evan turned 2-years-old on Friday, March 17.
Loved ones have set up a GoFundMe account to help the family with Evan’s medical expenses. If you would like to donate, click here.