Leaton Gardner celebrates birthday, year off chemo

Leaton Gardner

By Theresa Gardner

A Minden boy celebrated his birthday recently thanks in part to St. Jude.

Happy birthday was sung, candles were blown out and 8-year-old Leaton ORear was all smiles as he celebrated a birthday after being diagnosed with cancer only a few short years ago.

“He was diagnosed with B-Cell ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) in May 2018,” said Leaton’s mother Christian Gardner.  “He was real sick and we were just praying for a miracle.”

Gardner said the miracle came in the form of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. 

“We had always participated in the St. Jude fund raiser that’s held here in Minden each year,” she said, “And now we were faced with going to Memphis and having our own child there. We were terrified.”

Gardner said after Leaton’s diagnosis he began an aggressive form of chemotherapy, and the hospital that had seemed like a million miles away quickly became something altogether different.

“Everyone was so nice and caring,” Gardner said. “Everyone went out of their way to make us feel at home. We even saw some people we knew from Minden, so we really felt at home.”

Gardner and Leaton’s dad, Hunter O’Rear, credit St. Jude with saving their son’s life.

“St. Jude truly is a God send, for people like us whose children are diagnosed with childhood cancer,” Gardner said. “Without them we might not be celebrating Leaton’s birthday today. We are truly grateful for everything they did for us and continue to do.”

Leaton completed chemo treatments in January 2021 and recently his first full year being off chemo.

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