AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The McGarry family had this particular time of their lives planned out.
“Gentry was only two years old when he was diagnosed, and Ainsley our daughter was 4 months old,” said Amber McGarry, mother of Gentry and Ainsley. “I had just quit my job thinking I was going to stay at home with two little kids.”
Their 9-year-old son Gentry, is always on the go playing sports like basketball and football, but on one Sunday in August 2015, they were blindsided during a doctor’s visit.
“We thought he had a sore throat, we looked inside his mouth and his tonsils were pretty close together,” said their father, Chad McGarry. “So, we’re thinking tonsillitis, strep throat, something.”
Their lives were turned upside down.
“My wife had a feeling something’s not right, the mother intuition was kicking in,” he said. “We go in, they do the test, yes it’s confirmed, it’s Leukemia. We’re in the hospital for nine days straight.”
Gentry’s condition was serious.
His white blood cell count was high, showing he was fighting an infection. His red blood cell count, however, was extremely low.
“Our doctor said, ‘if he were to fall right now and get a bruise, he would start bleeding and we would not be able to control it,” his father said.
“They took x-rays of his chest, that first day when we got there, and you could clearly see tumors in his chest, which was really scary,” his mother recalled.
After the diagnosis, Gentry underwent three and a half years of treatments to fight Leukemia.
“We thought we were in a position to handle the bills. ‘It’ll be ok, it’s just medical bills’,” Amber McGarry emphasized. “But as often as he was in the hospital, and as many treatments as he was getting, I think one of the bills we got was $27,000 and it was for a one day stay in the hospital.”
“He was in the hospital sometimes for seven to nine days at a time. I remember when we had to fly to Dallas, and just the flight alone was in the $50,000 range, and the ambulance ride just from the airport to the hospital was $27,000,” she told us.
The costs were overwhelming. The McGarry’s weren’t alone though, Children’s Miracle Network walked the journey with them.
“It was comforting to know there was resources available, there was a community that we didn’t know about once we started on the path of treatment for Gentry,” Chad McGarry said emphatically.
As for Gentry, “it was really scary in that moment,” he said. “But my parents were with me, my friends, my family was with me as I went through it.”
He’s cancer free, and only has to do check ups every six months.
His mother telling us excitedly, “he lives a normal life, he plays sports, he goes to school like every normal kid, and it’s a blessing to see him grow up and be a kid again.”
For more information on Children’s Miracle Network, including how you can donate, click here.