In the past year, 3-year-old Hayden Bryce Williams has endured more hurdles than the average child his age.
Hayden Bryce Williams, 3, who suffers from leukemia, plays with his action figures with his mother, Amity Williams, in Evans. Wesley United Methodist Church is holding a barbecue dinner fundraiser to help the family pay for his medical expenses.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Bryce spends more time going to a clinic than playing outside.
"He can't go outside, because his skin is so sensitive to the heat," said his mother, Amity Williams, of Evans. "When he does, he has to play in a shaded area, and he has to wear bug spray, sunscreen and a heavy-duty mask to protect him from airborne germs."
And that's not all.
He can't play with animals, can't go to school or day care, and he has to get immunization shots every year just like a 6-month-old child. Medicine that he now takes for his condition has caused him to gain weight and possibly could stunt his growth. If he gets better, the medicine would no longer be needed and Bryce could return to his normal weight.
On Sept. 23, Bryce's mother learned he had been diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. AML can develop when there is a defect in the immature cells in the bone marrow, according to the National Marrow Donor Program.
After the diagnosis, Williams was forced to quit her job, and she now struggles to make ends meet to care for Bryce and his 6-year-old brother, Holden.
Help is on the way, though.
Today, Wesley United Methodist Church will hold a barbecue dinner fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the church, 825 N. Belair Road in Evans, to help the family with medical and living expenses.
When Bryce went into remission, doctors told his mother that the first option was to get him a bone marrow transplant, but unfortunately, a donor could not be found. As a result, doctors decided to perform a stem-cell transplant on Bryce on Jan. 19 at Duke University Medical Center in Raleigh, N.C., where Bryce and his mother had stayed until May.
"The doctors basically told us that they were going to bring him to the brink of death and bring him back to life," Bryce's mother said. The transplant killed white and red blood cells and blood platelets and put new blood into his system.
It's been four months since Bryce and his mother have returned from North Carolina to their Evans home, and things are looking up.
His mother said his health is improving and there have been no signs, so far, that the cancer is returning.
"We take it one step at a time," she said, adding that she misses her son being able to do normal things. "If we can make it to a year without any problems, then the chances of having a relapse goes down every year."
Despite the challenges Bryce has battled, he continues to keep a positive attitude.
"He's a good kid," said his grandmother, Donna Kennedy. "He's a fighter."
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