Baby battles cancer like a warrior


OKEECHOBEE — The word cancer is a scary one, and when we hear it as a diagnosis for a baby, it can be terrifying.

In the life of 15-month-old Landon Vinyard, this was the case.

Landon’s mom Shae told his story recently in hopes it might raise awareness of the struggle her son and her family face daily.

Right after Christmas last year, Landon’s parents noticed he seemed to be getting sick. He was just lying around, not doing any of the things he normally did.

“He was very active at that point, sitting up on his own, pulling himself up to stand, crawling all over, all the things babies do at that age. He would get in those little baby walkers and zoom around our house,” said Shae. “All of a sudden, he was just lying there. He wouldn’t move or anything.”

One day while Shae was at work, and Landon was at home with his dad William, Shae had a weird feeling and decided to come home early to check on him. The couple decided to take him to the emergency room but were told he was just constipated, and that they should follow up with the baby’s pediatrician.

After a day or two with no improvement, they took him to his pediatrician. She said basically the same thing. “It’s constipation.”

Shae asked the doctor, “Why is my son not standing up and walking? How does constipation cause your kid not to walk or roll over or anything?” The doctor told her sometimes babies are just like that, Shae said. The doctor told them to give him Pedialyte and Prune Juice, so they did.

He began using the bathroom without any problem, and they knew it was not constipation, so they took him to Saint Mary’s Hospital that same night.

“He would just lay there kind of like a zombie,” said Shae. “He was still happy. He wasn’t in pain, but it was the weirdest thing ever.”

At Saint Mary’s, they did a CAT scan of his brain, and it was fine. They did another test, and it came back positive for Rhinovirus, and they were told it would run its course. The following day, they took him back though because he was much worse.

This time, they did a spinal tap and found protein cells in his spinal fluid. They wanted to run more tests but made a preliminary diagnosis of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Immediately the family began searching the internet to find out about the syndrome, but it turned out, the doctors were wrong.

After an MRI, doctors found a tumor compressing his spine. It was up behind his lung and grabbing into his spine.

“That day, a neurosurgeon rushed him into surgery and scraped as much as he could off of his spine. He couldn’t get it all of, but he got as much as he could,” said Shae. “Within a couple days it was determined to be Neuroblastoma — cancer.”

Within a few days though, Landon was back almost to himself, sitting up and doing all the things he was before he got sick.

Because Landon’s dad’s family lives in Gainesville, they decided to take him to Shands Hospital, and he is still there. He just finished his fifth round of chemo and will begin the sixth soon. They were able to come home for a short visit after his fourth round of chemo, but for the most part, have lived in the hospital. Shae had to give up her job to stay with Landon, and Willian drives back and forth as often as he can.

The family moved to Okeechobee last year and purchased a home but have only lived there for about two months. They hope he will only need one more round of chemo, but he could possibly have eight rounds.

“We are praying and believing it will be gone,” said Shae.

There is a  GoFundMe on Facebook for anyone who would like to help the family with living expenses, travel expenses, etc. “Any help would be greatly appreciated,” said Shae. “So far, we were loving Okeechobee. We bought our first home and were happy there. I’ve tried to find things I can do from home, but it’s been really hard to do with a baby. I’m planning to go back to school when I can.”