A Heartfelt Conversation with Visionary and Co-Founder, Devan Kline, and Pineville Burn Boot Camp Member, Lauren Palmer, whose family battled blood cancer.
Throughout November, we will be sharing personal stories of families affected by blood cancer in support of our ‘Be Their Hero’ fundraising campaign. Our main objective is to raise both awareness and crucial funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) to continue to aid in fighting blood cancer.
To launch this series, Burn Boot Camp Visionary and Co-Founder, Devan Kline, sat down with Lauren Palmer, a dedicated Member of Burn Boot Camp at the Pineville, NC location. Lauren bravely shared her story, a battle no mother should ever have to go through — the diagnosis of her son, Jennings, with blood cancer back in 2017.
Lauren vividly recalls that at 36 weeks pregnant with her twins, her family received the life-altering news of a pediatric cancer diagnosis for their then 2.5-year-old son, Jennings. Lauren took him to the pediatrician because he had been recurrently ill with fevers mostly, but also seemed uncomfortable, in pain, and overall, not himself. After almost leaving without a diagnosis, bloodwork was done and that is when they received the news. Jennings was diagnosed with the rarest form of childhood leukemia, Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). The doctors gave them a stark 50/50 chance of survival and he was classified as high risk due to his type of leukemia.
Jennings embarked on a rigorous course of chemotherapy that included 4 rounds of incredibly toxic chemotherapy with horrible side effects and then a grueling bone marrow transplant. His four-year-old sister at the time, Caroline, was the bone marrow donor. Lauren and her husband, Joel, were adjusting to the curveball life had thrown them with their very sick toddler while also caring for their newborn twins and oldest daughter. They uprooted their entire family to Memphis for Jennings to receive his treatment at St. Jude.
Jennings fought hard and enjoyed 2.5 years of remission, but sadly in November 2020, his leukemia came roaring back 2 days before Thanksgiving. Jennings was a strong and resilient boy and did it all again. A lot more chemotherapy and another bone marrow transplant. This time, his dad, Joel being the donor. After his transplant, Jennings participated in a cutting-edge clinical trial at Children’s National Hospital and received special t-cells engineered to attack markers that are known to be on the surface of AML cells.
Today, at 8 years old and in the second grade, Jennings has been in remission again for 2.5 years, relishing all the joys an 8-year-old typically experiences — like playing baseball with his friends.
In Lauren’s own words, “Even if I never know, I know that sharing our stories, not just me, but all of us sharing our stories, impacts people in ways that we will never understand. And I think it’s just being faithful to do that.”
Her resilient spirit and tireless advocacy for LLS have played a pivotal role in raising awareness for the fight against blood cancer. Check out the complete podcast to hear Lauren share her heart through her family’s emotional and touching story.
Every contribution to LLS paves the way for children to enjoy more precious moments at home with their family and friends. Make a difference today by donating to our national fundraising campaign.