The Team Isiah Foundation is named after our son Isiah Dixon, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in June 2014.
Isiah is now a 17-year old rising Senior. Like most young men, he enjoys most sports (especially lacrosse, football and basketball). Isiah is also involved in the Boy Scouts of America, having achieved the Rank of Life Scout (the last rank before Eagle).
Back in May 2014, Isiah was finishing up his freshmen year in high school. He had just finished the season playing for the school’s JV lacrosse team and shifted his focus to playing for a local club team (Blackwolf Lacrosse). Soon after practices began, Isiah started experiencing headaches and a low grade fever as well as an overall lack of energy. Initially, we thought Isiah was coming down with a virus and that the symptoms would go away in a few days. Once the symptoms persisted for a week or so, we took Isiah to a local hospital emergency room. They found nothing as they only tested him for mononucleosis or Lyme disease. After an initial visit to Isiah’s pediatrician yielded no insight, we scheduled a second appointment with another doctor at the same practice and he immediately ordered a Complete Blood Cell count (CBC) for Isiah. The results indicated a more serious condition and based on the doctor’s advice, we immediately took him to Georgetown University Hospital’s Pediatric Hematology Oncology unit for follow up and treatment. Doctors there told us that Isiah either had leukemia (more likely) or a virus that they were not familiar with (the CDC was also contacted). Subsequent testing (bone marrow biopsy) confirmed that Isiah had leukemia, specifically Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). The good news about the diagnosis was that the leukemia was only present in Isiah’s bone marrow and had not spread to his blood stream or spinal fluid. Our family was initially shocked and very scared as most would be, but we relied on our strong faith in God and the doctors, nurses and staff at Georgetown to help Isiah and our family get through this.
Isiah started treatment almost immediately and his initial stay in the hospital was 32 days. The great news was that once doctors tested him after the initial phase of treatment, they found no molecular evidence of any leukemia cells in his body! That was in mid-July 2014 and Isiah has remained leukemia free since then. Because his immune system was compromised, Isiah was not allowed to physically attend school his sophomore year. Instead, he was enrolled in our local public high school in the Home and Hospital teaching program. Isiah’s classes were all taught online. Isiah had a great Sophomore year and recently completed his Junior year at school, and we are very excited that he will be graduating next year!
Isiah entered the final phase of treatment (known as the Maintenance Phase) in April 2015 and that will continue until November 2017. His treatment consists of taking chemo pills daily, clinic visits every two weeks for blood tests and IV chemo, and spinal taps roughly every three months (to ensure no leukemia cells are present in his spinal fluid). Isiah is happy to be back at school and to be with his friends and old classmates again.
Throughout this ordeal, Isiah has demonstrated tremendous courage and has vowed to beat leukemia and resume a normal life. Because he has a port surgically implanted in his chest (until his treatment ends) Isiah can’t participate in any contact sports (including lacrosse, his favorite sport). Because of a drug he was given during treatment which could impact his heart, Isiah is not allowed to lift any weights or objects over 50 lbs. He can exercise and lift light weights, but exercises that stress the heart (like bench pressing) are not allowed. Other than that, Isiah is leading a relatively normal life for a 17-year old. During his treatment, Isiah has established friendships with several other patients who are close to his age and have also been diagnosed with cancer. The staff at Georgetown has asked him on occasion to meet new patients (and their families) to discuss his experiences and help them adjust to the treatment and life style changes they will encounter.Since Isiah was diagnosed two years ago, we have experienced a tremendous outpouring of love and support from our family and friends, Isiah’s classmates and their families and the entire Georgetown University Pediatric Hematology Oncology department (doctors, nurses and staff). This encouraged us to form the Team Isiah Foundation so we can provide support and assistance to those families who have children who are faced with cancer.