A First Lost Tooth

This piece was originally posted on July 17, 2019 by Kristy Westrom on the CaringBridge page for her son, Liam, who was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in May 2018.

When Liam was first diagnosed, I had such a hard time with the fact that he was so young. How on earth could this little body, that has been given all the best since birth, have cancer? It wasn’t fair. It isn’t fair. How could something so awful happen to a child who hasn’t even lost their first tooth? There is so much life that hasn’t been lived yet.

I held onto the thought of this lost tooth. Through the first ten months of treatment, the chemo was so intense that bone growth and tooth development drastically decreased. His body was fighting so hard to keep up with treatment that it didn’t have the strength to do any of the normal stuff. His peers started losing their teeth and he started asking when he would lose his first tooth. I had read stories of other kids in treatment being years behind their peers with this. I did not have an answer for him, but I hoped it would be soon.

When he began Long Term Maintenance at the end of February, life was still hard with a hospital stay and low counts for several weeks. Eventually, counts improved, and they’ve been maintained for a few months now. We’ve been able to get back to normal activities. We’ve been able to hang out with friends. We’ve been able to live again. On July 4th, Liam lost his first tooth. He lost his second tooth yesterday.

It’s such a small “normal” thing to care about, but I do. Many small things mean so much now. Many big things are not so big anymore. I nearly cried when he told me that first tooth was wiggly. We absolutely love watching him enjoy childhood. It may include frequent temp checks, daily chemo, and monthly clinic visits, but he gets to be a kid again.

Written by Kristy Westrom 
Kristy is a former teacher and mom to two children, Liam and Isla. Liam was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in May 2018. Kristy and her husband, Stan, live in Chaska, Minnesota. They look forward to intense treatments slowing down for Liam so they can resume family activities, like going up to the cabin. Read more about Liam’s story here. 

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