WHITMAN — With an infectious smile and determination Kyler Hockney’s played with his Lego toy like any child his age — he is full of spunk. Even his name means warrior, and he is certainly striving for the title.
At the age of 4, Kyler Hockney is battling, and winning, his fight against childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
With mom and dad by his side and new baby brother Max, Kyler was given a check from Cops for Kids with Cancer CFKWC for $5,000 at the Whitman Police station Tuesday, Aug. 8, along with an entertaining bag of treats, a teddy bear and a gift certificate to get ice cream at Peaceful Meadows.
“We can’t thank them enough for the involvement. The people were phenomenal (CFKWC) we had to take Kyler in for an emergency platelet transfusion and we talked to Helena and she was wonderful helping us reschedule,” said Kyler’s dad Devin Cooney.
In January, with three weeks until her due date with Max, parents Lisa and Devin Cooney were given a diagnosis that Kyler who was then 3 years old, had childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He is also Philadelphia Chromosome Positive. ALL is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes a type of white blood cell.
The family was given direction from both a mutual friend and social services through Massachusetts General Hospital where he is being treated about the CFKWC program.
The Cooneys acknowledged their great support system they have through the challenges of Kyler’s treatments.
Most days he is running around playful, happy full of energy.
“He’s always smiling,” said dad. “We have those days he has been phenomenal you wouldn’t know, (he’s sick) but there are days his counts are off and he won’t eat and… he just wants to be a kid.”
In 2001 the FDA had approved a certain oral chemotherapy that Kyler takes daily. It specifically blocks the chromosome from doing what it wants to do, which is make the leukemia repeat itself. He has a specific treatment plan that he follows.
“Even though he has the chromosome … they know how to treat that,” said mom Lisa.
Deputy Chief of Canton Police Helena Rafferty, who is also President of Cops for Kids with Cancer was the presenter at the gathering at the Whitman Police Department. She started her remarks with wishing that Kyler didn’t have to have cancer in his life and be able to play at the playground being a healthy kid.
“When your child is traveling this journey of being treated for cancer there are so many concerns that families come up against,” said Rafferty. “They should be able to totally concentrate on the child. But there are so many financial issues mortgage, gas and transportation to the hospital. It is a privilege to be able to help the family.”
In the past families have used monies presented by CFKWC to construct backyard playgrounds, pay mortgages and even take a family vacation.
“[As officers] we have taken the oath to protect and serve — we know what the protect aspect is-the everyday things you connect with policing,” Refferty said. “This is serving our community. The people who truly need it at a desperate time and when your child is sick- there is nothing more desperate than that.”
On behalf of the Whitman police she donated the check to the family to offset their financial burdens with Chief Scott Benton and Whitman officers gathered to welcome the family and offer their encouragement.
Established in 2002 according to the CFKWC website the charity has grown tremendously over the last fifteen years.
“We have a 20-plus person board of directors comprised of active and retired police officers, and friends of law enforcement,” Rafferty said. “All are volunteers, receiving no salaries. We all work very hard to plan events and keep our overhead to a minimum.” Their missions is Cops for Kids with Cancer is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization focused on raising funds to provide assistance to families of children fighting cancer, to improve their quality of life.
Although life has challenged them this last year the Cooney’s are staying focused on Kyler’s recovery.
“Having a three year old diagnosed with cancer was very hard to hear at first,” Devin Cooney said. “We have such a great support system around us it’s helped tremendously. We can’t thank the people at Mass General enough. They have made this so much easier for us, for him.”
When Kyler’s treatments were decided upon they felt optimistic in the news doctors gave.
“We were told at the beginning that this medicine is a ‘game changer,’” he said. “We were told by his doctors it (ALL) used to be a very bad actor. But with this new medicine prognosis is becoming much better.”
Kyler has had some setbacks delaying treatments due to low platelet counts but they are about five months through his treatments.
“We have amazing medicine now in 2017. We can’t really look too far in the future, it is taking each day as it comes,” said his mom Lisa.