Walker Simmons

Walker Simmons’ battle with leukemia came on quickly. In 2013, the then 2-year-old began exhibiting unexplainable symptoms. “He had a low-grade fever, which didn’t seem concerning, and little spots popping up on his wrists and ankles,” said his mother, Melissa. “The spots looked almost like little bruises.”

Before the Simmonses could get Walker to Children’s of Alabama’s Emergency Department, the spots spread. What they didn’t know at the time was that the bruises were symptoms of leukemia. “Thankfully, when the nurse at the desk saw Walker, she got us back immediately and the doctors started doing lab work,” Melissa said. “They knew quickly it was something serious, and when they determined it was leukemia and told us, we were shocked.”

Walker was not only diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, he was also considered high-risk because his white blood cell counts were so high.  Doctors immediately put together an aggressive plan that included two-and-a-half years of treatment. Walker started chemotherapy before he left the hospital. “We were really blessed that he achieved remission within the first 29 days, which was the goal of the doctors,” Melissa said. “Though because of the type of cancer he had, we knew that didn’t mean the fight was over.”

Because Walker was considered high risk of relapse, he still required years of chemo after remission. His treatment included weekly visits to the hospital for treatment for more than a year, nightly chemotherapy administered at home and inpatient stays for particularly intense chemotherapy treatment. When treatment was over, Walker’s visits were reduced to monthly checkups. “The off-therapy checkups can be anxiety producing, hoping that his leukemia stays in remission without chemotherapy,” Melissa said. Thankfully, he is still cancer free and his body has recovered well.”

Checkups become less frequent as Walker inches closer to the five-year mark, which is when he will officially be considered cured. In the meantime, his parents are enjoying seeing Walker participate in his favorite activities. “He’s doing so well,” Melissa said. “You can’t look at him and tell he ever went through anything. He’s doing great at school and he’s an all-star baseball player. He’s just a typical little boy who loves playing around with his two little brothers.”

His parents are also confident that the care he received at Children’s played a major role in getting him where he is today. “We are so incredibly blessed we have a hospital like Children’s,” Melissa said. “We felt confident from the first moment we walked in the door. The treatments were top notch and the staff was amazing. We knew we were in a battle for our son’s life, and Children’s is right where we needed to be. We believe God carried us through the process and protected Walker, but we also know that He put us at Children’s for a reason. We couldn’t ask for better care and support than what we received at Children’s.”