There is a saying Darci Galvin has found that provides some comfort as she watches her son, Galvin, 16, battle a rare disease.
“It might be stormy now, but it can’t rain forever.”
The storm clouds descended on the Galvin family over the holiday break from school.
“Perfect timing, right?” Bryce said with a smile. “Get sick when there’s no school.”
He rolls his eyes.
Bryce had been battling what the family thought was a simple flu bug. He was tired, achy and vomited a few times.
“I was lying in bed most of the day. Couldn’t do much of anything,” he said.
He found a bit of energy shortly after the New Year, and was ready to go to school on Jan. 3 when he threw up again.
That was the final straw.
“I said, ‘O.K. We are going into the doctor to find out what’s going on for sure,’” Darci said.
They took Bryce to his regular clinic, Partners in Pediatrics in Rogers. There, Dr. Naomi Palmer found Bryce had abnormally high white blood cell counts, and that his blood pressure was very low.
“They asked us if we needed anything from home. I said, ‘No, why?’ She told us that we should head to the hospital immediately. She was very concerned,” Darci said.
Their next stop would be Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, where Bryce underwent a battery of tests. He was at that hospital for several days, before doctors noticed his kidneys were starting to fail.
“So they moved us to the Amplatz Wing [at the University of Minnesota], where they kind of specialize in that. Finally, they were able to pinpoint what was going on,” Darci said.
Finally, doctors were able to pinpoint the cause. It was Multicentric Castleman’s Disease, a rare form of Castleman’s that impacts more than a single group of lymph nodes. It can also attack organs that contain lymphoid tissue, such as the kidneys.
The result is a severe infection, which can cause all of the symptom’s Bryce was experiencing prior to his admission to the hospital.
It was now mid-January.
“It was really just a relief to find out what it was, so we could start treating it,” Darci said. “In basic terms, it’s just a benign form of lymphoma. But you treat it as if it was a cancer. In fact people who get this have a 20 percent greater chance of getting lymphoma some time down the line.”
So a port was installed near Bryce’s clavicle, and doctors started chemotherapy, which is the most effective form of treating the illness. They also started dialysis.
For the boy who likes everything from baseball to skateboarding, it was a helpless feeling, being laid up for the better part of 10 weeks.
“At first, I kind of felt like it wasn’t fair,” Bryce said. “I’d always been healthy. I never got sick.”
But as the treatments started to work, Bryce started to make his way back. He's off dialysis. He has three more rounds of chemo left. And then, it's planning for the future, including a return to school.
“The doctors and nurses said he was always the most positive patient. He kept smiling. And he had a group of friends that just kept coming all the time,” Darci said.
Though Bryce is a junior, he was familiar with the battle his school-mate, Luke Letellier, had battled. Darci said Charlie, Luke’s brother, is a friend of Bryce’s little brother. Though the illnesses couldn’t compare, the outpouring the Galvin family is seeing now is familiar.
“Our community has been through so much in the last year, it’s just incredible. But the things people do … I’m speechless. I really am,” she said.
This weekend, the community will pitch in again with a meat raffle at , which is at 23 Central Avenue in St. Michael. From 1:30 to 5 p.m., patrons can play raffle games, with all proceeds going to the Galvin family.
Then, in a couple of weeks, G.B. Leighton will come to town to raise money for the cause. Leighton, a longtime, popular Twin Cities musician, will perform live at the Performing Arts Center Thursday, March 29. The show begins at 6:30 p.m. with an opening band (consisting of STMA students), and tickets are $10 in advance at Hardware Hank in St. Michael or in Albertville. There will also be a silent auction in the cafeteria area, outside the PAC.
Bryce and Darci said they plan to be at both events, for sure.
“I think it’s amazing how people in this area come together for events like this,” Darci said. “It’s awesome.”
You can follow Bryce's journey via a Caringbridge site, managed by Darci.
IF YOU GO:
What: Fundraising events for the Galvin Family
When: Sunday, March 11 and Thursday, March 29
Where: Ditto's Bar (Meat Raffle) and St. Michael-Albertville High School PAC (concert)
Cost: The Meat Raffle is up to you! The concert is $10 in advance, $15 at the door.
Why: Proceeds will cover medical bills the family needs to pay as they fight Bryce's