BMF CARES SPOTLIGHT
Liam Wirtner is a a sweet, happy 4 year old from Warrior’s Mark who is currently in treatment for B cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (B cell ALL). He is the son of Jill Lewis and Tyler Wirtner. He was diagnosed with B cell ALL when he was only 3 years old.
His mother shared Liam’s story:
On July 2, 2018, our lives changed in a blink of an eye, for not only our family, but for our happy, full-of-life 3 year old son Liam. On that date Liam was diagnosed with acute leukemia.
For a few days, Liam was complaining off and on of abdominal pain that would last no more than 10 minutes, but when he had the pain it would bring him to his knees. At first, we thought maybe it was gas pain, never expecting that we would soon find out that our son would be diagnosed with cancer. We took Liam to his pediatrician for an exam only to find out that his liver and spleen were very enlarged. The pediatrician also found a small area of petechiae on Liam’s lower leg. We were sent directly to UPMC Altoona’s emergency room, where lab work and a CT scan was performed. After what seemed to be the longest wait of our lives, we were told the unthinkable. The pediatrician told us that Liam’s blood work was very abnormal. They immediately began trying to arrange transportation to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh for further work up and evaluation. We had a big rain storm that day so we were unable to go by helicopter, so we patiently waited for an ambulance to transfer us safely to the Children’s Hospital. We arrived at UPMC Children’s Hospital around midnight and they immediately started their own work up and evaluation. As we all prayed and tried to not think about the worst case scenario there was a great heaviness in all of our hearts.
A few days later, just 3 weeks before Liam’s 4th birthday, the work up confirmed that he had B cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (B cell ALL). Liam then underwent a bone marrow biopsy, spinal tap and a port placement so that he could begin chemotherapy.
The following days seemed to be a blur as we tried to process his diagnosis and questioned how this could happen to our family, let alone our sweet little blue eyed, blonde haired little boy.
While most of the features of Liam’s leukemia indicated an excellent prognosis requiring only the standard chemotherapy, the bone marrow biopsy also showed that Liam had 2 genetic deletions, Ikaros and Pax5, which would change just how aggressive Liam’s treatments needed to be. These deletions were only recently discovered and are not fully understood, so Liam’s case went in front of a tumor committee, who suggested Liam start a “higher risk” chemotherapy treatment. Liam has had some setbacks due to the chemotherapy medications including hospitalizations for a seizure, fevers and sepsis, as well as the usual side effects such as nausea and losing his hair, but he has fought through all of it to keep smiling.
Liam won’t be done with his treatments until October of 2021, which feels like an eternity, but he continues to stay strong and happy. He has an entire Army behind him praying and supporting him and our family along the way. He has an amazing family support system. With all of the love, prayers, and support he will overcome this disease that does not discriminate. As Liam likes to say “’I’ve got this.”
We would like any donations* to go to The Brian Morden Foundation as they have supported us and many other local families.
Jill Lewis and Tyler Wirtner
At the request of Liam’s parents, the BMF CARES Spotlight program will donate $1000 back to the Brian Morden Foundation so that local children with cancer will continue to be helped.