"A misty-eyed doctor says cancer-stricken teen Kyle Bergeron is losing his long and courageous battle with leukemia, and without a miracle from Heaven, he’s got just weeks or months to live.
But his mother Vicki Bergeron says, "God didn’t bring my son this far to let him go now."
And she believes in her heart that your prayers, cards and letters can bring the healing that will make the young man’s dreams of dancing at his senior prom - and graduating high school with his twin brother Logan - come true.
"I still believe there’s a miracle out there with Kyle’s name on it - please, please pray for my son," the determined mom told the Herald-Guide in a dramatic appeal for help in a heart-wrenching interview at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, where Kyle Bergeron, 18, has been treated on and off since the summer of 2005.
"The doctors say there’s nothing more than can do for him. Medically speaking, it’s out of their hands.
"But Kyle hasn’t given up. He’s a fighter - and he’s praying for a miracle, too.
"There’s power in prayer - we know that. And it's the power to save Kyle’s life.
"We need help," she whispered, "His family’s prayers don’t seem to be enough ..."
Dr. Tammy Singleton agrees that without divine intervention, Kyle's time is short.
Asked to describe Kyle’s chances of beating leukemia with another round of chemotherapy or radiation or even a bone-marrow transplant, the pediatric hemotologist-oncologist from Louisiana State University broke into tears, answering “non-existent" as the boy’s mother up from her chair and darted across the room to comfort the weeping doctor.
"Medically speaking, there’s nothing more we can do," she continued, hugging Vickie Bergeron as tears rolled down her cheeks.
"But I believe in miracles, too ... miracles and God’s will. And Kyle ... Kyle is an amazing young man, an amazing person, an amazing spirit. I know you're not supposed to get attached to your patients. But he’s like family, and he is my friend."
Kyle’s journey into the hellish and merciless world of cancer and its vicious complications began early in 2005 with numbness and chest pains that doctors linked to an unexplained lung condition that they couldn’t quite figure out despite repeated testing and hospital visits.
After he collapsed face-first into a pizza at his family’s dinner table, says his mother, the kid "who lights up a room when he’s in it" and is the go-to guy "for anyone who needs help with a problem" was raced to a hospital.
Once there, he was diagnosed with pneumonia so advanced that physicians marveled that he still was still conscious.
Though tight-lipped about the boy's condition, it was clear they suspected a more serious situation than even the pneumonia.
"The doctors were being careful not to say too much but one let the ‘cancer’ word slip," says Vicki, a para-teacher at Mimosa Park Elementary who hasn’t been able to work since her son got sick.
"I kept thinking, ‘No. No. It’s just an infection. It’s mononucleosis. It’s just a bad, bad infection.’ I wouldn’t accept cancer.
"But he had so much fluid in his lungs from the pneumonia, they had to do surgery to start draining it. That’s when everything started to happen very fast.
"One of Kyle’s lungs collapsed. They put him on a ventilator so he could breathe. They started doing blood work on everyone in our family, not just on Kyle, but on all of us. Then they pulled my husband, Charlie, and me into a room and explained just how serious the situation was for Kyle, how serious the cancer was.
"I still remember it as ‘the big whammy.’ Logan (Kyle’s twin), and I told Kyle about the cancer, and the first thing he said was, ‘Am I going to die?’
"I said, ‘Not if we can help it.’ And Logan said, ‘You’re a fighter, Kyle, and so are we. We’re a team and we’ll get you well.’
"Kyle cried. But then he turned the fear and sadness around, and said, ‘I’m going to do it. I’m going to get well.’"
After recovering from a round of chemotherapy, Kyle was strong enough to undergo surgery to accept a bone-marrow transplant, a prime weapon in the battle against leukemia, which is a cancer of the blood.
At the time, a doctor told Kyle’s mother, "That boy’s got a guardian angel watching over him. It’s a miracle he’s made it this far."
As if the long sickness and grueling medical procedures weren’t enough, Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans while Kyle was in a special sterilized isolation room at Children’s Hospital recovering from the transplant.
"It was one bad thing after another," says Vicki. "But I kept thinking, ‘No matter how rough things get with this storm, God won’t let anything happen to these kids. He’s got angels around this hospital. I know that for a fact."
By Thanksgiving, Kyle was strong enough to go home.
"We just knew he had beaten the cancer," says Vicki. "Kyle was making plans to get back into his classes at Hahnville High School.
"He was planning on graduating and going on to college to become a recreational therapist, and then go to work at Children’s Hospital.
"He did go back to classes at Hahnville in the spring, but only for three days.
"He had been keeping up with his studies through the school system’s 'homebound education' program, but going back to classes on campus ... he couldn’t catch up with all that he had missed from the classroom experience while he had been in the hospital."
A month later, in June, Kyle’s recovery faltered.
"He got a fever," recalls his mother. "And his blood ‘numbers’ weren’t quite right. But tests didn’t show anything alarming, and I thought, ‘We’re still good.’
"Then the doctors did another test, and they gave me the horrible news - the leukemia was back.
"They gave him more chemotherapy and another bone marrow transplant. Then Kyle got an infection and they put him back on a ventilator so he could breathe. This time, I broke down.
"All I could think was, ‘The nightmare is starting all over again.’ You have no idea what this child has been through ... no idea at all."
Kyle spent the next two months in intensive care fighting for his life, says Vicki. His condition and prospects were so grim that a doctor told her point-blank to contact family members and let them know that if they wanted to see Kyle alive, they didn’t have long to get to the hospital.
"I told the doctor, ‘Don’t you give up on my boy,’" the mother continues. "I said, ‘My son needs you. He can’t do this alone.’"
Spurred by Vicki’s love and determination, doctors arranged for another procedure using blood products from family donors, and a neighbor.
"Kyle did fine and once again, we felt he had turned the corner," she recalls. "It wasn’t smoothing sailing - after all of his time in intensive care and being in such pain, he was addicted to pain medications, and he had been taking some strong ones, like Dilaudid and methadone.
"When they took him off the medications, he became irrational. He ripped out his catheters and he was hallucinating. They eventually had to put him back on methadone and start weaning him off more slowly.
"When things were under control, they let us bring him home. I've got the date right here in my pocket planner. It was Oct. 16, 2006 - just days before his 18th birthday on Oct. 20.
"By then doctors were saying Kyle had beaten all the odds. They were calling him their ‘miracle child.’ They were calling him 'a survivor.’
"One doctor told me, ‘That young man was heading into the tunnel of light (the light people often report seeing when they die during a medical procedure but are later revived), but we dragged him back by the heels - not once, not twice, but three times.’
"That’s how many times Kyle was on the verge of death."
The optimism turned to horror - yet again - just days ago, on Dec. 5, when Kyle's blood numbers - his leukemia - took another turn for the worse.
"Kyle told me, 'Mom, I can't take any more chemo,'" says Vicki. "I asked the doctor, 'Do we have options?' And she said, 'Not many. I can let him go home, and make him comfortable for as long as he can hold on ... nothing more.'
"When we gave him the bad news, he cried and cried and cried. But his motto throughout this ordeal has been, 'Whatever it takes.'
"And he's not giving up. When it looked like he might, his brother Logan said, 'Promise me you won't give up, Kyle. Promise me.'
"And Kyle won't. He has lost muscle mass because of his hospitalization, and he can't walk," adds his mom. "But as sick as he is, his goal right now is to get his miracle and recover so that he can be on his feet again by April.
"He's a great dancer, and he wants to dance at his senior prom. And he wants to walk across the stage and get his high school diploma. He wants to graduate with his twin brother.
"He's staying positive because he doesn't want the cancer in control. If he lives, he has his plans. If he dies, he wants to die with dignity."
Kyle needs special transfusions of blood and blood products every two days to stay alive while he waits for a miracle - which, clearly, is the young man's only hope.
Anyone can donate blood specifically for Kyle, and he needs all he can get. His mother and family friends have issued an appeal for donations.
"Kyle would like to go to New York City to see a few plays because he is a big fan of theater," says Vicki, noting that the Make A Wish Foundation is racing with the clock to get Kyle to the Big Apple to see the play, Rent, and perhaps others before, barring his miracle, he gets any weaker.
"He loves the beach," she continues. "I'm hoping he will be strong enough for us to take him to a place like Gulfport or Destin with a view of the water and where we can wheel him out to the balcony or the beach and let him see the sunset and listen to the waves.
"Those are two dreams of his," says Vicki, her eyes glistening with tears. "As his mother, I'd like to make those dreams come true for Kyle. If I can do that, I will feel like, as a mother, I fulfilled my promises to him."
|Mom Vicki Bergeron hugs Kyle. Her son is at home under a special “Comfort Care”program designed to keep him pain-free while he waits for the miracle he needs to beat leukemia.|