NORTH PLATTE, Neb. — It's hard to stay positive when your baby is fighting for his life.
Lance and Katie Wright of North Platte are doing it anyway. They have to. Allowing themselves to feel anything else would be devastating.
Their son, Kohen Wright, was born Nov. 6. He arrived prematurely with neuroblastoma, a cancer that develops from immature nerve cells.
Kohen was initially life-flighted to Children's Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, where doctors removed a tumor from his underdeveloped chest. He also had five tumors on his liver, but was sent home at the end of November.
“The reason for that was a biopsy showed the neuroblastoma was a very lazy, slow-growing kind,” Katie said. “Typically, the body is able to kill the cancer cells faster than they reproduce. That's not the case anymore.”
In January, the Wrights returned to Children's for a checkup. A test showed Kohen's hormone levels were elevated, which Katie said usually means the cancer has spread or is growing.
“We were hoping it was a fluke,” Katie said. “We weren't really worried about it. We were supposed to be back in Omaha in February anyway for a scan.”
The Wrights returned home, and Kohen took a turn for the worse.
“He became a different baby,” Katie said. “He was fussy and not eating like he should have been. Then, his tummy got hard and started to grow. His belly button started to pop out.”
On Jan. 24, Katie called Children's and was instructed by an oncologist to return Kohen to the hospital immediately. The Wrights arrived in Omaha at 11 p.m. that night.
A computerized tomography scan showed a new tumor had grown in Kohen's chest. There was another one on top of his right kidney.
“The doctors aren't even counting how many tumors Kohen has in his liver,” Katie said. “I saw the CT scan, and there were black-and-white dots everywhere. It's stage 4 cancer — the most aggressive type.”
Kohen's liver has swelled to the point that it takes up his entire stomach and squishes his other organs. The Wrights are waiting on a liver biopsy to determine the risk level.
Kohen started chemotherapy before the test results were back. Doctors wanted to be proactive. They also wanted to help Kohen eat and breathe easier.
Neuroblastoma is an extremely painful cancer, so Kohen is on morphine and Tylenol with codeine. The good news is the cancer hasn't spread to his bone marrow. But his fate is up in the air.
“When we left Omaha in November, doctors gave Kohen a 90 percent success rate,” Katie said. “They haven't given us a number this time. That's probably best. I don't want to know.”