KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
September 16, 2020
By Natalie Cook Clark
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, but Lucas Drew’s parents think about the disease every day. Last year, they spent 150 days apart from their youngest son as he battled a rare form of leukemia.
Katy's Lucas Drews got the red carpet treatment after leaving the hospital after his bone marrow transplant. Photo credits in this story: Maria Drews
The Power of the Katy Community
When Lucas was diagnosed with cancer, John and Maria Drews experienced any parents’ worst nightmare. However, the Katy community came together to lift up this family who needed support.
An Energetic, Happy Two-Year-Old
“To see Lucas now, you would not know what he went through last year,” says Lucas’s mom, Maria Drews. “He is a very energetic, happy two-year-old.”
When Lucas was eight months old, the Drews noticed a small puffiness on his right temple.
“He was always on the move, so we thought that he had hit it on something,” says Maria.
Cancer at 9-Months
Still they brought the spot to the attention of their pediatrician at Lucas’ 9-month checkup. From there they were sent to a plastic surgeon at Texas Children’s Hospital, but the doctor was unable to determine what the mass was from the ultrasound. The Drews scheduled a biopsy, but before the appointment, Lucas developed a fever and breathing problems.
On May 1, 2019 Lucas was admitted into Texas Children’s Hospital.
“John and I thought we would be at the hospital for half a day for the procedure,” says Maria.
That half a day turned into a 31-day stay. The doctors found that the mass was protruding towards Lucas’s brain and he was admitted for observation on the general medical floor. Over the next several hours, the Drews met with neurosurgeons, ophthalmologists, and then finally oncologists.
A Rare Form of Leukemia
Lucas was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of leukemia, AML, m7.
The mass on his head was a chloroma, or a cluster of leukemia cells. AML is an aggressive form of leukemia mostly seen in children with Down syndrome, which Lucas does not have.
“The medical community is really spilt on how to treat this, especially in individuals without Down syndrome,” explains Maria.
Moving Homes While in the Hospital
While the Drews were discussing treatment options for Lucas they were also moving homes. They are grateful for getting help from an amazing family that took over the move.
Lucas underwent three rounds of intense chemotherapy with each round resulting in a hospital stay of three-to-four weeks long.
“It was hard on the whole family, but it was especially hard on our oldest son, Jacob,” says Maria.
At the time, Jacob was three years old and was suddenly in a new house and his parents were at the hospital much of the time.
It was decided that Lucas would need a bone marrow transplant in order to beat the cancer. As neither of his parents or brother were a match he was entered into the general registry and matched to a male in his 20’s who lives in Germany.
Lucas had to go under a fourth, more intense round of chemo that completely killed his bone morrow.
“The transplant itself was low key,” says Maria. “John and I were in the room and Lucas slept through the whole thing.”
Throughout his treatment Lucas Drews spent a total of 150 days in the hospital, including time in ICU on a ventilator. He even celebrated his first birthday in the hospital.
Lucas celebrated his first birthday while in the hospital.
Lucas was discharged after his transplant last November. Long before the fears of COVID-19, the Drews were terrified of exposing Lucas to infections.
The Power of Katy Moms, Community
Maria is part of a Katy mom group, Mission of Motherhood.
“Some of the mentor moms from the group came into our house and cleaned it top to bottom,” says Maria. “We pretty much stayed quarantined to our house.”
Through everything, the Drews were blown away by the passion to serve and help that the Katy community showed them.
“I grew up in a small town,” says Maria. “Since moving to Katy, John and I had not really felt the sense of community. That all changed with Lucas’s diagnosis.”
The Drews are members of St. Peter’s Methodist Church in Katy, and Lucas’s older brother, Jacob attends preschool at the church’s Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC).
“They sent home several bags of cards, toys for both boys, and food,” says Maria.
The pastors prayed for them and visited with prayer quilts and prayer chains made by praying moms from Maria’s mother’s group.
Maria is a therapist at Hope Rehab and her coworkers delivered meals and started a fundraiser for Lucas. John’s coworkers at BD Energy Systems also helped with meals and support.
One of the hardest things during Lucas’s treatment was that Maria had to miss her graduation for her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. The dean from Texas Tech University Health Science Center coordinated with Hope Rehab to have a special graduation ceremony for Maria in Katy.
Maria Drews celebrates with a special graduation.
“That was one of the brightest spots throughout this journey for our family,” says Maria.
Today, Lucas loves garbage trucks, tractors, and anything with wheels. He loves to play outside in the dirt. Maria says he is small, but mighty.
While Lucas is still considered cancer-free, he is still closely monitored by the transplant team and his oncologist. Over his past check-ups he has been showing more of his cells vs. the donor cells (that they want) so that is being monitored.
Coming Together During COVID
“We try not to take for granted the time we have together,” says Maria. “COVID has brought us even closer. We had to spend so much time apart last year due to the hospital stays. COVID has forced the boys to get to know each other again.”
Lucas hopes to join his big brother in preschool at St. Peter’s ECDC next spring.
Support Katy Families
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and A Shelter for Cancer Families (ASCF)’s campaign, “Hearts of Gold” works to raise awareness and support for families fighting this battle alongside their children. Learn more about how you can support local families.