Doctor? Broadcaster? Professional athlete? Or an aerospace engineer? Only time will tell, but one thing is clear now, Alcadio Barron doesn't believe in impossible dreams. This energetic 11-year-old is filled with excitement about his future and chooses not to worry too much about today.
About four years ago, his family was shocked to learn that he had acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL).
"I thought Alcadio had the flu," says his mother, Angela. "At first he had a lot of bruising, and we dismissed that as just being a boy. Then he started becoming pale and fatigued, so we took him to the pediatrician and they dismissed his symptoms as well. Inside me, however, I just knew something was up, so we went to see another doctor. Needless to say I wasn't surprised when I heard his diagnosis. We were told he had kidney cancer, but then it didn't fit his profile."
Dr. Karl Wehner and Dr. Paul Bowman guided the Barrons through Alcadio's first round of chemotherapy treatments. After nearly three years of chemotherapy, Alcadio was clear.
Today, however, the cancer has returned; the battle has begun again. Despite having ALL, Alcadio loves his life. His favorite part of school is Ms. Coleman's class for homeroom. "I love math so much," he says. "I love that part of the day. My favorite part of math is the way you have to solve the problems in certain ways in order to get a correct answer." After school, he is a typical kid playing paintball with his dad, playing basketball and attempting to master his PlayStation.
The Barron family has been touched by the friendliness of the Shannon Health team. "Roxanne is very special to me," says Alcadio, "because she's funny and makes me laugh. She's inspiring. My other favorite was Amanda, because she takes good care of me, does my lab work and she refills my fluids for me. I love to hug everybody when I come to the hospital. I also like to play Zelda on the Zach's machine." That's a game system named after Zachary Knightstep, who inspired a donation to purchase portable game stations. It plays PlayStation games and DVDs as well. The system is portable and can be moved from room to room.
"The adventures in the game remind me of life," says Alcadio, who obviously feels at home at Shannon. The teen room, new rooms and the movie library make the time at the hospital go faster. He also loves his medical team. Their light-hearted nature and attention to caring for young people make an often difficult time not seem so hard.
The Barrons are especially appreciative of the care Alcadio receives at Shannon. It saves them weekly trips to Fort Worth and allows the family to continue life in a more stable fashion. Both Alex and Angela Barron are extremely strong, but they didn't expect the second round of treatments to be so intense. Angela says: "He's doing much more medication this time. My biggest fear is whether he will be able to physically handle the medicine. I know his spirit can."
Alex chimes in: "The news of him relapsing made me go numb. The diagnosis killed me the first time. But the second time, I knew he had the spirit to walk the path again. We'll pull through it. It's not three years; it's only two."
Alcadio is inspired to see so many people worry about him. He says, "It encourages my heart." When asked about what he would tell other children about being diagnosed and going through cancer treatment he says, "There are a lot of opportunities that you can't pass. Your treatments will inspire you and make you laugh. The time will be better than you think."
The Barron family is deeply touched knowing that the San Angelo community and surrounding areas have committed to supporting an organization that is so important to their lives. In addition to the community, Angela says, "They [the nurses] don't have to love him, but they do. The nurses at Shannon fall in love with every kid that comes through the doors—Alcadio is no exception."