Boy Newly Diagnosed With Cancer Inspires with ‘Constant Smile’ and Endless Curiosity
As the parents of six, Dave and Jeanie Caselman have mastered the art of handling whatever life throws at them. Whether it’s school events, sports, graduating from high school or starting college, they thought they had experienced it all with their kids.
That is until five months ago when one of their children was diagnosed with cancer.
On April 1, 2019, their 8-year-old son Treagin was playing with a friend when they collided. This kind of thing happens, and once immediate injuries were ruled out, his parents didn’t give it a second thought. After all, kids will be kids. However, shortly after the collision, Treagin began complaining of chest pain that came and went...and eventually never went away.
On April 19, Jeanie and Dave decided to take Treagin to his primary care physician, Smita Suresh Ranade M.D., a Cook Children’s pediatrician in Richland Hills, who found a mass on his left side and sent the Caselmans immediately to Cook Children’s Emergency Department. Once there, X-rays were taken and the Caselmans were told that an oncologist was coming to speak with them.
As parents there is nothing scarier, Jeanie explains. There are some things parents hope will never happen to their child, and this was at the top of the list.
When the X-rays came back they revealed a large mass on Treagin’s left chest wall, as well as a chest full of fluid. A biopsy was performed that confirmed Treagin had Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. It was at that moment that their world was turned upside down.
No parent wants to watch their child go through what Treagin currently is. Dave and Jeanie admit that it’s easy to get down and ask why or dwell on how he doesn’t deserve this, but watching Treagin’s positive attitude has helped them focus on the good in a tough situation instead of the bad. Treagin’s “it is what it is attitude,” and his ability to roll with the punches, while remaining positive has been a saving grace to his entire family.
“It is our job to comfort Treagin when things get tough,” Dave said. “We want to be strong for him, but what he doesn’t realize is that his positive attitude and constant smile makes it easier for us to dig deep and be strong for him when he needs it most.”
Parents don’t always realize how comforting a simple smile or laugh from their child can be in these situations. Treagin’s first few rounds of chemo were tough on him, Dave explains, the chemo shots he gets usually make his bones ache, but he hasn’t let that stop him.
The thing that has amazed Treagin’s parents the most throughout this journey is how much he wants to know what is going on and how willing his doctors and nurse have been to explain things in ways he understands. He asks questions, wants to see pictures, X-rays and anything else they will show him. He is always aware of what is happening and what is coming next.
“I think the fact that he is so inquisitive and willing to learn about what is going on throughout his treatment has helped us,” Jeanie said. “He doesn’t act afraid when doctors explain the next treatment, he just keeps smiling and as a parent that inspires you to stay strong.”
“Treagin is one of the most curious patients I have ever interacted with, he has the ability to vocalize what he wants to know and exactly how he is feeling,” Anish K. Ray, M.D., a hematologist and oncologist at Cook Children’s, said. “Since he is so aware of what is going on, it only seemed reasonable to me to allow him to be included in any decisions made.”
Even though he has limitations, Treagin continues to live life to its fullest. Whether he’s asking if his friends can come over to play video games or begging his parents to take him to watch his sister, Tavvy, at her different sporting events, Treagin is still tackling life head-on and isn’t wasting a single moment.
“Throughout all of this he has never stopped smiling,” Dave said. “He inspires me to keep going and to find joy in every situation no matter how hard."
By Libby Collins
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