Expecting Baby #3!
- Illusionist Criss Angel and his wife, Shaunyl Benson, are expecting their third child, a baby girl, in December.
- Angel and Benson’s son, Johnny, was 20 months old when he was first diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He was in remission in 2015 but relapsed in 2019 and now he’s in his last year of relapse treatment.
- Being a parent and a cancer caregiver at the same time is a huge responsibility. It’s important to take care of yourself and find the time to celebrate life’s happy moments along the way.
Benson and Angel’s son, Johnny, was 20 months old when he was first diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL, in October 2015. After three years of treatment, his cancer went into remission. Then, in December 2019, Angel announced that his then 5-year-old son had relapsed and would begin chemotherapy treatments again. Now he’s currently in his last year of relapse treatment (immune therapy) and “doing amazing.” The family seemingly does a wonderful job supporting Johnny while taking the time to celebrate family milestones.Read More
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“Baby number 3 was absolutely unexpected, thanks to you tequila!” she wrote in her caption. “Here’s how I told @crissangel and our family!”
Johnny was the first person she told. He happened to be at the hospital undergoing treatment when he received the news and immediately embraced his mother, gave her kisses and even did a little dance. “Is it a sister?” he asked. At the time of the video, Benson was not sure. But now she knows it is in fact a baby girl who’s due on Criss Angel’s birthday, Dec. 19.
What is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)?
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL, is a type of leukemia where the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.
The American Cancer Society estimates that about 5,690 new cases of ALL will be diagnosed in the United States in 2021. The ACS also reports that the risk for developing ALL is highest in children younger than 5 years of age, with a slow decline in risk until the mid-20s. Then, the risk slowly rises again after age 50.
Dr. Olalekan Oluwole, a hematologist with Vanderbilt University Medical Center, previously talked with SurvivorNet about ALL’s effect on the body and the type of treatments that work to fight it.
“ALL is a type of cancer that is very aggressive,” Dr. Oluwole told SurvivorNet. “It grows very fast. Within a few weeks, a few months, the person will start to feel very sick. And that’s why we will have to give it an equally aggressive type of treatment to break that cycle.”
Dr. Oluwole also says the leukemia often resides in the bone marrow, and because it is an abnormal growth, it just keeps dividing.
“It doesn’t follow rules, and it doesn’t stop,” he told SurvivorNet. “Not only that, because this is part of the immune system, the immune system is sorta like the police of the body. So those abnormal cells that have now become cancer, they have the ability to go to many places. They go into the blood, and they often go into the tissue or the lining around the brain.”
Caring for a Child with Cancer
Benson and Angel have a lot on her plates right now. Especially with Benson being pregnant with their third child and still caring for their son with cancer. Being a caregiver and a parent is a big responsibility, but Benson and Angel are seemingly doing a great job at balancing the two roles and celebrating the exciting milestones of life along the way.
Similar to Benson, Jayne Wexler knows the simultaneous role of mother and cancer caregiver. Her son, Justice, was also diagnosed with ALL, but he has since recovered. In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, she explained how she managed to be a mother and a caregiver all at once.
“Being a caregiver is a huge job,” Wexler said. “Fortunately, my husband and family were very supportive … it’s really hard to see your child go through this. If it could be me, I would take it in a second. You just go on auto-pilot and you just do what you have to do.”
But that doesn’t mean it was always easy. Wexler admitted that as a parent caring for a child with the disease, you don’t have a lot of time to sit down and deal with your own emotions.
“You don’t have that much time for yourself,” Wexler said. “I try to stay strong, but then sometimes you just want to go and cry, and you need to cry… it’s good to cry.”
The survival rate for children with cancer has improved an incredible amount over the past few decades, but pediatric cancer is still an incredibly hard thing for a family to go through. In her own caregiving experience, Wexler found therapy to be a really great way to process everything happing to her family. Regardless of whether it’s therapy or participating in your favorite activities or something entirely different, it’s important to find ways to also take care of yourself as you’re taking care of your child.