By: Carly Levy
It was just a few weeks ago when 9-year-old Logan’s aunt noticed that his neck appeared swollen when they were out together. Looking further, she discovered what appeared to be a mass on his back.
She immediately told his father, Gil Cruz, who took him to the pediatrician, who then referred him to the hospital for further testing. When the diagnosis came back as T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the whole family, including his three siblings cried. When Logan saw his father crying, he comforted him and said, “Don’t cry, I’m okay.”
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia is a blood cancer where the abnormal white blood cells gather in the bone marrow. This type of cancer progresses rapidly and healthy cells that make functional lymphocytes are replaced with leukemia cells that cannot mature properly. Then the leukemic cells travel in the bloodstream towards other organs and tissues like the brain, lymph nodes, testes, and liver where they continue to grow and divide. About 98 percent of children go through remission within weeks after treatment with 90 percent of them being cured.
Logan will have a bone marrow biopsy and a spinal tap where the results will determine his next course of the chemo. Already having undergone six treatments, he is on chemotherapy and has visited Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital twice a week for his first 29 days of treatment.
Logan was born and grew up in Coral Springs. He enjoys playing basketball, hanging out with his friends, playing video games and spending time with his family. Before his diagnosis, he attended Heron Heights Elementary in Parkland. Soon, he will have a tutor come to his house twice a week for two hours to keep him on track with his fourth-grade schoolwork.
Along with his siblings Ethan, 13, Ryan, 11, and Alexa, 7, he enjoys going to the beach, playing outside, board games, going to the park, swimming and watching reality TV shows.
His mother Suzanne, a world history teacher at Westglades Middle School, said that one of the difficult things about treatment is administering his medication. Fortunately, Logan found a good way to hide the taste by masking it with chocolate pudding. She also added that because his immune system is poor, he cannot go outside of the house, so he’s been a little bored at home.
“His spirits are so high which is nice. He knows what’s going on. He knows what he has and he’s been actually really good coping with this,” said Suzanne.
The Cruz family has been having difficulties with their insurance company Ambetter Health. After Logan was admitted to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital for eight days, Ambetter Health told the Cruz family that they were not affiliated with the hospital, and they would no longer be covered if they continue to stay there. Their option was to find another hospital in West Palm Beach, which is a much farther drive for them.
“Currently, this has been one of our biggest challenges,” said Suzanne. “So far, Joe DiMaggio’s has been doing what they can to accommodate us, which has been extremely helpful.”
Now, Ambetter Health is trying to work out contract terms with Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in order to provide Logan with medical care at their facility.
“We are going to stay positive and hopefully the contract negotiations get worked out,” said Suzanne.
In order to raise money to help pay for Logan’s medical expenses, Gil created a GoFundMe page where they have already raised over $16,000 towards their goal of $25,000 towards future treatments for Logan.
“We have some people who have called us to see how they can help – and everything is really so new to us so they asked ‘What can we do?’” said Suzanne. “We’re so overwhelmed by the love and support of all of our friends and family. It’s very overwhelming in a good way.”
The Cruz family have also started The Logan Alexander Cruz Foundation to help their family and others who are going through the same situation.
“The love and support is definitely out there, and it’s wonderful,” said Suzanne.
If you’d like to donate, please go to GoFundMe.