At only 5.5 years, Ben Tesene has faced more adversity in his young life than most people see in a lifetime. On March 20, 2016, when Ben was only three, his parents took him to an Urgent Care clinic because they thought he had come down with a virus. He had been tired, running a low fever, and had some unexplained bruising. Four hours later, Ben and his parents were in the Blank Children’s Hospital Emergency Department being given news that would alter their lives forever: CANCER.
“Cancer is never on your radar as a parent,” said Ben’s mom, Nina.
Ben was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). The initial phases of treatment were intense. Ben and his family were at the clinic weekly getting chemo and blood transfusions. About a year ago, he started long-term maintenance. Ben takes daily oral chemo and receives monthly chemo via IV at the clinic. He also has to undergo periodic sedation for lumbar punctures.
Despite his rigorous cancer treatment that will last three years, Ben attends Pre-K, participates in swimming and basketball, and tries hard to keep up with his 7-year-old sister Claire. He deals with some side effects of his diagnosis and treatment, including physical therapy for neuropathy in his legs and feet. He is sometimes tired and once a month takes steroids that cause a strong reaction. When his blood counts are low, Ben stays home and has to miss school and other events.
“Despite it all, we have been very lucky,” said Nina. “Ben has done remarkably well.”
Ben loves sports (especially basketball!), running, and riding his bike. In the face of such adversity, Ben hasn’t let his diagnosis bring his spirit down. He is a happy boy who loves life and is an inspiration to many, especially his parents!
“Ben’s diagnosis has taught me to seize the day!” said Nina. “I have learned to slow down and enjoy moments with him and his sister. Every milestone we have with him is a blessing we don't take for granted. We take life one day at a time and are so grateful that he is doing well.”