Bentley’s Battle Draws Local Support
When meeting Bentley Yow of New Martinsville for the first time, one cannot help but smile.
The adorable baby boy has absolutely gorgeous eyes filled with the normal sort of childlike wonder and curiosity; a head full of dark, wavy locks, and a look of pure, unhindered orneriness. Despite spending the weekend and a majority of a Monday at West Virginia University Children’s Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va., waiting for lab results, Bentley is all smiles, babbling and jumping up and down in mom, Abi Batton’s, lap. It’s hard to believe that this beautiful, bright-eyed boy is in the fight for his life: a fight against a serious and rare disease: neuroblastoma . . . otherwise known as cancer of the nerve cells.
The story of Bentley’s Battle, along with updates of his progress, can be found on the Facebook page “Bentley’s Battle for a Cure.” As written there, Bentley Yow was born Nov. 10, 2013. He was born four weeks early because of Batton’s high blood pressure, so he was hospitalized for about a week to improve lung functions. As his Facebook page best describes it, Bentley has “proved himself to be a fighter since birth.”
On April 25 an X-ray was performed of Bentley’s chest and he was diagnosed with pneumonia at WVU Urgent Care in Morgantown. Doctors gave Bentley a fast-acting medication and told the family to come back the following day. On April 26 another chest X-ray was performed, which showed that Bentley’s lungs were more than 90 percent clear. The doctor and pediatric radiologist expressed a concern about a small spot that appeared in Bentley’s upper left lung. A CT scan was ordered and on June 27, 2014, Bentley’s family received the shocking news that he had neuroblastoma, an aggressive and rare type of childhood cancer with less than 650 children diagnosed in the United States per year.
The recap of Bentley’s last few months-mainly the many terms that are used, along with many, many statistics and numbers-can make one’s head spin. It’s perhaps an understatement when Batton and Yow state of their life that “Everything has changed.” For instance, Batton said the cure rate of Bentley’s cancer is 90 percent. He has a 15 percent chance of relapsing. However, the survival rate if he does relapse is just five percent. Furthermore, Batton stresses that there is so much that his chemotherapy itself can cause, including heart problems, liver damage, and even leukemia.
And obviously, it’s vital to keep an eye on Bentley’s immune system while he’s fighting neuroblastoma and undergoing treatments. If Bentley’s temperature rises to 100.4 or higher, the family has to pack up and head to the hospital. As of right now, Bentley already heads to Morgantown every Thursday for lab tests. Batton already works at WVU Hospitals, so she states that the family goes ahead and stays in Morgantown until Monday, when they get results.
Batton also frequently speaks of Bentley’s ANC-absolute neutrophil count-which deals with his white blood cells. Batton stated that Bentley’s ANC needs to be 750 or higher to undergo chemotherapy.
Of the tumor, Bentley’s Facebook page reads: “The large mass, which was at first believed to be in his chest, actually started in his spine and has since grown out into his chest, pressing down on his left lung . . . The tumor has grown up into his neck and around the carotid artery and the jugular vein. Since the tumor has wrapped itself around his spinal cord, he had developed problems with sitting up and weakness in his left leg.”
Furthermore, “We were initially told that only one lymph node located in his abdomen was possibly affected, however a recent MRI has shown this tumor is affecting numerous lymph nodes in his neck in addition to possible lymph nodes in his abdomen. The first line of treatment is chemotherapy.”
Bentley is currently halfway through his treatments; he completed his fourth this past week, which he began on Thursday. According to his Facebook page, this past chemo treatment has “really been rough on him.” As of press time, a post on Bentley’s Facebook page stated that the round “has really knocked him down . . . He has been throwing up and is just not himself.” The post noted that matters could get worse over the next week as the chemo takes full effect.
Batton has noted that the schedule is set up so that Bentley undergoes chemotherapy every 21 days; he will get an MRI before his fifth round.
Despite being in the battle of his life, Bentley is still very much like any other little boy his age. Batton and Yow laugh when talking about how their son is “a little flirt,” who know his nurses at WVU Children’s Hospital, especially his favorite, Megan. Batton stated that Bentley loves monkeys, bottles, Baby Einstein, and is amazed by his brothers Kaleb, Kaiden, and Braydon. Kaiden noted that his baby brother also loves “jumping,” as evidenced by Bentley hopping up in down excitedly in his mom’s lap. Batton and Yow stressed that they have wanted to thank everyone who has given support and donations throughout Bentley’s battle. Batton noted that her and Yow started out with thank you cards but could not keep up. Yow noted in a Facebook post on Bentley’s page on July 7 that “It is through all of you and our faith in God that has held us up during this time.”
For those who are interested in supporting Bentley, Melissa Lightner, Lissie Howell, and Lara Williams have all been selling t-shirts for Bentley’s supporters. Mike Wells and Mickie Hall also have decals and wristbands for Team Bentley as well.
A benefit will be held for Bentley Oct. 4, beginning at noon at the Lewis-Wetzel Family Center. A spaghetti dinner, $6 for each person, will be held until 6 p.m., and a food bar and desserts will be available after 6 p.m. There will also be live entertainment, a Chinese Auction, and 50/50 raffle tickets. Those who wish for more information or to donate are encouraged to call Mike Wells at 740-359-6398 or Mary Ash at 304-904-6012.
A Go Fund Me site is also accessible online at www.gofundme.com/BentleyYow and Bentley can also receive mail at P.O. Box 273, New Martinsville.
Now is also the time to show support for Bentley as September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Supporters for awareness are encouraged to “go gold,” which is the color representing childhood cancer.
According to stjude.org, this year an estimated 15,780 children and adolescents in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer, the equivalent of 28 elementary schools. As to neuroblastoma, it accounts for seven to 10 percent of childhood cancers. Each year, 800 new cases are diagnosed in the United States. Batton and Yow noted that they have kept in contact with the family of Hines David Rotriga, the three year old in Wheeling who has also been battling neuroblastoma. For more information on neuroblastoma, check out www.stjude.org/neuroblastoma, and to check out Hines’ battle, check out “Hope for Hines” on Facebook.