Gavin Snowhite is currently undergoing five rounds of chemotherapy, which will be followed by proton radiation therapy at Miami Cancer Institute.
“Before cancer I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Now I think something in the field of oncology would be a cool option because I have so much experience with it.”
– Gavin Snowhite, 13 years old, Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma.
Gavin wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to get out of bed
In November 2017, Gavin Snowhite of Jupiter just wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to get out of bed, which was completely uncharacteristic for the active teenager who enjoys horseback riding, fishing, paddleboarding, biking, and lacrosse.
Physicians initially diagnosed him with anemia and later that month changed his diagnosis to Epstein Barr.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), also known as human herpesvirus 4, is a member of the herpes virus family.
“It is one of the most common human viruses. EBV is found all over the world. Most people get infected with EBV at some point in their lives. EBV spreads most commonly through bodily fluids, primarily saliva. EBV can cause infectious mononucleosis, also called mono, and other illnesses.”
Symptoms of Epstein Barr Virus include fatigue, fever, inflamed throat, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, enlarged spleen, swollen liver and rash, many of which Gavin was experiencing.
At his last doctors visit, “both physicians said his spleen was enlarged and they weren’t really concerned which gave us some comfort,” according to Gavin’s mother Melanie Snowhite,
“They pulled out the Physicians Desk Reference and said an enlarged spleen was totally normal with mono. Thankfully they did err on the side of caution and ordered an ultrasound which came back abnormal. We consulted with Dr. Nayf Edrees, a pediatric oncologist, who upon seeing Gavin’s results immediately sent us to St. Mary’s Emergency Room.”
Gavin was subsequently admitted for 10 days prior to receiving a diagnosis of Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma.
Mom thought her life was over
Melanie recalls thinking her life was over upon hearing her son’s diagnosis.
Due to the staging and severity of Gavin’s case, physicians suggested entering him into a research medication study where he would have a 50/50 chance of getting either the randomized trial medication or traditional chemotherapy.
Gavin is currently undergoing five rounds of chemotherapy, which will be followed by proton radiation therapy at Miami Cancer Institute.
This type of radiation therapy, according to Gavins father, Jake Snowhite, is state of the art and less invasive than traditional radiation therapy, but there are considerable possible long term side effects.
“All of the doctors have asserted the radiation treatment is necessary to beat this cancer.” The proton radiation treatments will run Monday through Friday for four weeks and the family will need to establish a temporary home base closer to the treatment hospital.
A positive attitude
Maintaining a positive attitude is helping Gavin get through his cancer treatments and the drastic lifestyle changes he is enduring.
In Gavin’s words:
When you heard the diagnosis of cancer instead of mono, what was your first reaction?
“I had mixed emotions.
“I was definitely surprised but I knew I would get through it. The doctors explained that they have newer treatments to target the Hodgkins cells that work better than traditional chemotherapy.”
How is cancer affecting your life?
“Chemo is not fun at all but I’ll get by. The worst part is the nausea and I get really sick from it. In May, I’ll start radiation and right now I can’t do as much as I used to but it’ll be back to normal in a month or two I’m sure. My friends are giving me space and they care and check on me. Right now, I’m immune compromised so I can’t be around people as much, but my doctors and nurses are really super nice.”
“I can’t do anything outdoors like I love to. I have a horse named Ranger who is basically a big dog and super lovable. I miss riding him but I also have a fluffy rabbit that is almost therapeutic. And there is a loggerhead turtle that was named after me. They heard about me and named him Gavin.
“He was caught in a fisherman’s lines and is now getting rehabilitated at Loggerhead Marinelife Center. I went to see him and he was in a small pool and wasn’t feeling well but would stick his head out of the water every time he came around and looked at me. He is now in a bigger tank and scheduled to be released in a few months. It’s pretty cool.”
What about school?
“I hated leaving school and going to virtual school. I really miss my friends. Virtual school took some adapting but it’s just not the same. There are no teachers there to interact with. I miss school a lot. All of my teachers were so super nice to me and I was in the gifted program.
“I’m hoping next year to get into the medical program at Jupiter High School but my application was withdrawn when I had to leave school, so I need to re-enroll. I hope this doesn’t mess that up for me.”
Responding well ….
Gavin is responding really well to the treatment and, according to Melanie, his last PET scan showed there was no cancer left “which is amazing,” she said.
“Even the program directors and doctors are impressed at the success of his treatment so far. His lymph nodes are still enlarged, as is his spleen and liver. Hopefully the last two rounds of chemo will continue to shrink his lymph nodes, spleen, liver and other masses.
“We continue to stay positive and support Gavin and his journey any way we can, and we thank everyone for their continued support and prayers.”
Article taken from TCPalm.