IOWA — Lochlan Smith is a busy six year-old who just started kindergarten, but he’s missed a couple of weeks of class already this year. His parents have to worry about many things to keep him healthy.
“He`s an animal. He is. He`s a wild child dare-devil. Cancer has not slowed this guy down or stopped him from anything. He`s always been happy too,” said his parents Melissa Vick-Smith and Rusty Smith.
Lochlan was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma when he was five months old. “I`m the one that found it. I was giving him a bath one night.,” said his mom Melissa.
He had a large tumor in his liver. He went through chemotherapy and had a liver transplant when he was ten months old. Melissa said, “They told me even with the liver transplant. His survival rate was less than 30 percent. He`s our miracle. He’s here and he`s with us.”
He`s now five years out of treatment and has no evidence of disease. “He`s been doing great, and we want to keep it that way. I am very protective, but I also follow doctors’ orders,” said Melissa.
Lochlan can’t be around those with a contagious illness. He also can’t get a live vaccine or be around children who have had a live vaccine in the past two weeks. “Measles could potentially be life threatening for Lochlan because of the liver transplant,” said Melissa.
“We have to be very careful about that even going out into public places. We don`t really do a lot of public things with Lochlan,” she added.
He also has hearing loss, attention issues, and a decreased safety awareness. The journey affected his twin siblings too. They were just three when he was diagnosed. Sister Maddi Smith said, “He was in the hospital for a really long time.’
Brother Keaton Smith said, “There was maybe three times I got to see him while he was in his treatment.”
Maddi explained, “Kind of bad because we didn`t get to see our mom, sometimes our dad or Lochlan at all.”
Dad Rusty said, “It`s been quite the journey. Very, very difficult at times. You just have to keep going. The outlook has been good. Unfortunately, sometimes it`s not. It`s just something you have to deal with. There`s no other choice.”
Lochlan was able to go back to school on Tuesday, since that was two weeks after some of his classmates got back-to-school vaccinations. His class went on a field trip and he got to ride a school bus for the first time.