James Lino is an adorable, active 3-year-old. The youngest of three boys, his life is full of normal childhood activities, except for one thing; James has T Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, a type of cancer.
“You never think your child is going to be the one sick in the hospital,” says Heather Lino, James’ mother. “We went to [Tufts Medical Center] at the end of July and James has basically been there ever since with a few short trips home. He misses his brothers a lot”
Heather and James’ dad, Jay, noticed some abnormal “lumps” or multiple masses near James’ collarbone and brought it up to their pediatrician right away who ran some routine tests. Two weeks later the masses were looking worse and James was having trouble moving his neck. James’ lab results were concerning to his doctors and they referred him to see Alexander Marston, MD, a pediatric ENT at Tufts Medical Center.
Dr. Marston’s biopsy of the masses confirmed their suspicions. At the end of July, James was diagnosed with cancer and began treatment with. Since then, it has been a whirlwind experience for James. Cancer treatments are life-saving, but can have adverse effects on such a young child.
He’s met many other Tufts Children’s team members including, Carl-Christian Jackson, MD for a port surgery, and Lawrence Milner, MD in Urology for seizures all for side effects or to add to his treatment. “We’ve just had an amazing experience at Tufts,” says Heather. “All of the doctors are so knowledgeable and I feel like they really listen to my husband and me. We feel like we are part of his care team and have a real say in all of his medical decisions.”
Amidst all of the scariness of having a sick child, the comfort and care provided to James by the team at Tufts Children’s has not gone unnoticed. Moments that stick out in Heather’s mind include Dr. Wiltsie sitting on the floor with little James to play with him, all of the kind gestures of the nurses on the pediatric bone marrow transplant unit and in the pediatric intensive care unit to make her son feel more comfortable with hugs and kind words, and the special moments James has made with the child-life specialist team, who he knows are his friends and never wants them to leave. She feels equally comforted by all of the team members at Tufts including those in nutrition, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and public safety, to name a few.
Thankfully, James is in remission and the lumps mass in his chest and neck are virtually undetectable. “We’ve been blown away by the consistency of great care that James has received at Tufts,” adds Heather. “This small team communicates with us every step of the way and as parents, that’s a real comfort.”
This year for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we celebrate James and all children who have or previously had cancer as well as the dedicated care teams who treat them and help restore their best childhood possible.
Learn more about the Tufts Medical Center Division of Pediatric Oncology >