Story of Healing
By the time Camden Barnard was in 5th grade, he had already beaten leukemia once and was gearing up to play his first baseball game in Lafayette, LA. Before he took to the field in March 2021, Cam had a routine doctor’s appointment to have blood drawn.
A few hours later, Cam’s doctor called with news that his leukemia had returned. Cam’s parents, Pat and Carlee, had to sit Cam down and tell him that he couldn’t play baseball that evening because his cancer was back.
With this second cancer diagnosis, Cam, his parents, and stepparents traveled to Baton Rouge to meet with another doctor to learn more about his options for treatment. His doctor shared that Cam could go to one of two places: a hospital out of state or Children’s Hospital New Orleans.
“The decision was made for us,” said Pat. “Children’s Hospital was closer in distance, the other hospital felt like a world away. Children’s offered three modalities for Cam’s treatment options; the other hospital only offered two.”
Cam and his family arrived at Children’s Hospital New Orleans and met Dr. Cori Morrison, Cam’s new Oncologist. “Dr. Morrison astounded me,” Pat shared. “I came in hot, with a lot of questions. I mean, this was not our first time doing this. Dr. Morrison assured us that we were going to receive top notch care regardless of who we were or what we had been through before.”
What was even more impressive to Pat was how Dr. Morrison spoke to Cam. “She got down on his level, looked him in the eye and said, ‘We care about you, we care about your feelings, and we want you to be an active participant in your care plan,’” Pat recalled. “She was amazing.”
Through Cam’s treatment plan, it became clear he needed a bone marrow transplant. Despite being exposed to COVID-19 before and after his transplant, Cam just “keeps trucking,” according to Pat.
“We keep a positive household,” shared Pat. “We constantly remind each other that it could always be worse, so we choose joy instead.”
As Cam recovers from his transplant at Children’s Hospital, his room overlooks the baseball fields at Audubon Park. That’s when Pat had an idea. After a few phone calls, Isidore Newman School’s baseball team had agreed to turn around and wave at Cam before one of their games. “I was just trying to think of something to encourage Cam,” said Pat. “I mean, he was supposed to play baseball in March and now fast forward to now he’s not able to leave his hospital room.”
This simple wave led to so much more. Now, a sign reading “ALL IN FOR CAM” hangs behind Newman’s dugout thanks to the team moms. Cam and his family even made it into the Newman yearbook!
Cam is getting closer to the day he can be discharged from Children’s and he and his family can stay in a house here in New Orleans–all expenses paid by Pat’s employer in Lafayette. “We’re really looking forward to Cam being able to play outside,” Pat shared. “We’ve really grown an appreciation for the little things like that.”
For so many families, like Cam’s, who travel to Children’s Hospital from around the state, the hospital often becomes a home away from home. “We’ve felt at home during our stay at Children’s Hospital,” said Pat. “You know, we’re from Cajun country, and we love our boudin. But we won’t bring boudin to just anybody. Let me tell you, I’ve brought a lot of boudin to the Children’s Hospital doctors, nurses and staff. That tells you all you need to know.”
The Children’s Hospital team is excited to share in Cam’s joy as he continues to heal, and will always be ALL IN for every child who needs expert care. Click here to learn more about the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Hospital New Orleans.