Celebrating Sebastian’s first Christmas and first New Year in the hospital were unimaginable when Lashay and Kevin were contentedly juggling play dates for their two children. But on Dec. 21, a leukemia diagnosis changes everything. “It wasn’t much of a Christmas,” says Lashay, determined to make her son’s first birthday special.
With help from family and staff from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, Sebastian’s party is complete with streamers, balloons, lots of presents from family and friends. “Sea Bass,” as he is known by 5-year-old sister Milena, is perched in a highchair expected to be slathered with deliciousness once resembling a cake delivered by the dietary staff.
But when Sebastian has no interest in a traditional cake smash, Maggie Teichman, a Child Life specialist, and Alex Dorn, an activity tech and her cohort on the decorating committee, quickly adjust. They cover a play mat with a clean linen sheet for the tiny cancer fighter to open presents.
His grandmother, a surgical nurse, is watching via video chat from a smart phone held by Dorn. “I love working at All Children’s but now I am not just an employee, I’m part of the patient process,” says Cyndi Long, R.N., humbled by what she’s witnessing from the other side of the hospital.
“He’s such a happy baby, even with his condition, he’s a happy baby,” says mom, Lashay.
There’s a red and yellow airplane and a “baby’s first” dish set. Oma, from St. Louis, sent a card with a check and dad, Kevin, sent a blue toy train. Sebastian’s favorite gift is individual-serving cups of breakfast cereal, but to be fair, they were a favorite long before this special day.
Lashay and Kevin share a single birthday wish. “I want us all to be home together and cancer free,” mom says.
Happy birthday, Sea Bass.