STOW — Lincoln Shure in many ways is a typical 4-year-old boy.
Lincoln, who lives with his family in Stow, loves to play basketball, go biking and jump on his trampoline. He enjoys watching Paw Patrol, Blaze and movies, likes going to his preschool, has fun play fighting with dad Bryan and reading books with mom Valerie.
However, through much of his life, Lincoln, also has had to fight a tough battle against cancer.
Valerie Shure said Lincoln was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma in April 2018, about a month before his third birthday.
According to information at the Lymphoma Research Foundation website, Birkitt’s lymphoma is a rare non-Hodgkin lymphoma that may affect the jaw, central nervous system, bowels, kidneys, ovaries and other organs.
“Originally, we thought he had a hernia,” Valerie said. “During the pre-op ultrasound (to fix the hernia) the radiologist determined he had masses in his abdomen. One of the pediatricians called into the office to tell me the news. The staff at the Cleveland Clinic started getting appointments set up for us immediately. Lincoln didn’t know what was going on because the radiology and nursing staff occupied him while my husband Bryan met us at Hillcrest Hospital.”
Lincoln would soon undergo a battery of tests, including X-rays, biopsies and bloodwork, Valerie said.
“Overall, the week was a blur,” she said. “After his biopsy, it was determined that Lincoln had Burkitt’s lymphoma. Lincoln had to go through three months of treatment including surgery for a port, chemotherapy, platelet and blood transfusions, and multiple spinal taps. Any time Lincoln had a fever, he was taken back into the hospital for a few days of medications and monitoring. My husband, mother-in-law and I took turns at the hospital with Lincoln while the others tried to be home with our daughter [Lyla] to keep her on schedule as much as possible. On days in which we both were at the hospital or school — I work at a school and Bryan is in medical school — Lyla stayed with my mom, dad, aunt or with friends.”
Lincoln finished his chemotherapy treatments in July, Valerie said.
“The scans showed one of his lymph nodes was still borderline/larger than desired and he required another biopsy to ensure there was no more signs of cancer,” Valerie said. “All biopsies came back negative, praise God. It was scar tissue. Lincoln continues to require ultrasounds, bloodwork and checkups monthly to ensure he is continuing to recover. We are so grateful for God healing our son. Lincoln’s immunities are improving and we are so thankful for our prayer warriors and our team of helpers.”
While undergoing treatment, the family found another ally in their fight, Valerie said: Casey Cares, which works with families of critically ill children to help provide diversions for the child and family.
“We were told about Casey Cares while in the hospital,” Valerie said. “Our social worker gave us the information and we applied. The first experience we had with Casey Cares was in the hospital. Our kids were gifted new pajamas. On one of our weeks home in between chemotherapy treatments, we were gifted a movie night package. The kiddos got pajamas, candy, Redbox movie codes and popcorn. Our family was not able to go out because Lincoln’s immune system was compromised. Having a movie night in was perfect to battle being in the house for so long.”
More than 20,000 children are diagnosed with a critical illness every year, said Michel Elben, communications coordinator of the Casey Cares Foundation. Casey Cares is a nonprofit organization which serves critically ill kids like Lincoln in eight states and Washington, D.C.
“At Casey Cares, we serve families with children battling everything from cancer to sickle cell disease to cystic fibrosis,” Elben said. “In nearly two decades, Casey Cares has provided thousands of families opportunities to participate in group parties, athlete meet-and-greets, and sporting event and museum trips. We also provide at-home movie and PJ nights when kiddos are too sick to go out.”
Casey Cares also provides a birthday gift delivery for children in the program, Elben said.
“Our birthday program is especially important to us because we know how critical each birthday is to children who are fighting for their lives every day,” said Casey Baynes, Casey Cares founder and executive director.
Valerie said that for Lincoln’s fourth birthday on May 1, Casey Cares mailed him some of his favorite toys, such as Owlette “and some cool superhero gear.”
“Casey Cares had also gifted us with two events,” Valerie said. “We were able to go to Paw Patrol Live and Frozen on Ice as a family once Lincoln’s immunities started to return.”
The Shure family will “look forward to spending some quality family time with future Casey Cares activities,” Valerie said.
Baynes said that Casey Cares helps “the family throughout the treatment.”
“That’s what makes us really different,” Baynes said. “We get the know the families, what they need. Something as simple as a pizza and movie, it may seem as a small thing but for a family in this situation, it’s a much-needed reprieve. It’s a bit of light in dark times.”
Casey Cares is there “to support the critically ill child, the brothers, the sisters, the parents,” Baynes said.
“Oftentimes, the families have to have a lifetime of living in a few short years,” Baynes said.
For information on Casey Cares, which is headquartered in Baltimore, visit http://caseycares.org/ online or call 443-568-0064.
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @AprilKHelms_RPC