Baker family will benefit from Strike Out game

Published 4:10 pm Wednesday, March 27, 2019

By Myra Bean

Lily Baker’s childhood was disrupted one Sunday morning with a high fever and subsequently a diagnosis of leukemia.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

She is the second of three honorees of the South Panola High School Fastpitch Strike Out For Cancer campaign. The Lady Tigers will host Grenada Thursday (March 28) in the annual event.

The games raises funds for the local citizens to use as needed for trips to the doctors, hospitals or any medicines not covered by insurance or other means. Lily will be honored by the Junior Varsity team.

The diagnosis

March 12, 2017, was a regular Sunday for most people, but for then 3-year-old Lily it was the beginning of a terrifying journey for her and her parents, Lee and Nichole Baker. She was extremely tired and her temperature climbed to 105 degrees as she got paler. No food or drink could be held in her stomach, according to Nichole.

They got her to the hospital emergency room where “abnormalities” were revealed. The Bakers were instructed to immediately get her to Lebonheur Children’s Hospital.

“When we arrived she was so pale and so out of it my husband and I knew that something was terribly wrong. They immediately gave Lily multiple blood transfusions and we started hearing words like “hematology” and “leukemic process,” Nichole said.

From Lebonheur she was transferred to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and admitted to the leukemia floor.

Nichole said, “I remember getting off of the elevator and seeing at the sign that says Leukemia Unit. I thought to myself, is this real? Is this happening? This has got to be a mistake”

Two days later after a bone marrow biopsy she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. “We were crushed. Our life as we knew it was over,” Nichole said. She was correct as the following weeks and months turned out to be the hardest they had ever had.

They were facing the question of whether their baby girl would even make it through this process. “Our lives and family have been forever changed and there were days that we didn’t see how we could make it through this or worse if Lily would make it through this,” Nichole said.

Lily now receives daily infusions of chemotherapy. She also receives blood thinners and other adjunctive medicines. Treatment is scheduled to be completed in October this year.

Other serious medical conditions have beset Lily these last two years including infections, a five-day ICU stay for a blood clot, and a month-long battle with meningitis.

“Lily continues to fight and we continue to count down the days until it’s over,” Nichole said.

She attributes this hope they now have to St. Jude and its research center. Because of its goal of eradicating childhood cancers, Lily has over a 90 percent chance of survival, according to Nichole.

“Not only is St. Jude saving Lily’s life but they have also taken a huge financial burden off of our shoulders. St. Jude will never send us or any family a bill for medical care and when a hospital stay is needed, they take care of all food and lodging. When our child was diagnosed with cancer the last thing that we needed to worry about was money. St Jude understands that and allowed us to focus solely on Lily,” she said.

Lily had to be pulled from daycare when she got sick as her immune system was so low. Her last treatment is October 10 this year and she will be able to attend kindergarten at that time.

Her grandmother and a nanny keep her while her parents, who are both in the healthcare field, work. Nicole said when they get home they immediately change clothes and there is sanitizer all around the house.

They are members of First Baptist Church in Oxford and due to the rain and flu season, they have missed a lot of church the last four months.

“It has been a lifestyle adjustment,” Nicole said. She hopes the funds raised by the softball team will go to St. Jude because without them Lily would not have survived.