Connor Anderson was 2 ½ years old when doctors gave him a month to live. Seven years later, he is fighting cancer for a second time in his life.
Connor, the son of Jessica Anderson of Columbia and John Anderson of Russell Springs, was diagnosed with large cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2005 after a doctor found a tumor in his colon. He immediately went into treatment and soon after went into remission.
In August, Connor’s mother took him to see a doctor because he had been feeling ill.
“Doctors told us in the beginning it wasn’t the cancer coming back,” Anderson said. “We thought he had a gluten problem.”
She contacted Connor’s cancer doctor, who told her usually if a patient goes more than five years without any problems the odds are slim that cancer would recur. What doctors didn’t know at the time was Connor has a rare immune deficiency called XLP.
“He basically has no immune system,” Anderson said. “It only hits one in a million. The doctors feel that is the reason the cancer came back.”
Soon after, doctors found another tumor in his colon. After seven years of remission, Connor is once again fighting cancer.
“It was a nightmare,” Anderson said.
He has been hospitalized at Kosair Children’s Hospital for over a month.
Connor had surgery Tuesday and doctors removed an obstruction in his colon, which will now be biopsied. Doctors went into the surgery not knowing exactly what they planned to do—remove portions of the colon, the tumor or part of the intestines. The surgery became necessary because Conner’s body rejected chemo.
Despite the obstacles of a rare immune disorder and cancer, Connor has been nothing but positive throughout the whole process, according to his mother.
“He has a very good outlook,” Anderson said.
Last week, Connor’s mother walked into his hospital room and Connor told her he was excited about the surgery. When asked why, he told her either way he was a winner.
“He told me, ‘If I live that means they’ve gotten me into remission. If I die, I am still a winner because I am going to go to heaven.’” Anderson said. “Even if he was in the worst pain ever, you wouldn’t know it.”
Doctors will now look into the chances of a bone marrow transplant, she continued.
Connor’s mother created a Facebook page called Connor’s Corner, where she regularly keeps everyone updated on his progress.
“The support we’ve gotten is outstanding,” Anderson said. “I just ask everyone to pray.”
Anderson said Connor has to be on pain medication on a regular basis, but despite everything his confidence about his recovery never waivers. Connor once reassured his mother, “Don’t you know that God has a hand on me.”
“God has truly taken care of us,” Anderson said. “God has a plan for Connor and Connor knows that.”
The community has given the Anderson family their support as well. Many of Connor’s teachers and other members of the community have visited him in the hospital.
A community support group and Relay for Life Team called Connor’s Warriors has been formed and is helping raise money for the family.
On Saturday, Nov. 10, the group is hosting Connor’s Warrior Walk at the Jim Blair Recreation Center. The group’s goal is for everyone to walk seven laps around the track in support of every year Connor has been in remission from his first stint with cancer.
There will also be Connor’s Warriors t-shirts and wrist bands for sale, inflatables for children, sack races, face painting and refreshments. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. All proceeds will go to the family.
Members of the community have also been sending “Hugs for Connor” photos to the Anderson family on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Connors-Corner.
By Allison Cross