A Washougal Police officer’s young son is battling cancer for the third time in one year.
Declan Reagan, 5, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in May 2016. Before he was diagnosed, Declan had a fever and bruising, and he was lethargic.
“Be aware, and get a blood test for peace of mind,” said his mother, Lauren.
The Acute Myeloid Leukemia relapsed in February of this year.
In April 2017, Declan was diagnosed with T-Cell Lymphoblast Lymphoma.
“Right now, he has two different cancers at the same time,” Lauren said.
Declan has a twin brother, Adrian, who is healthy.
Lauren and the twins’ father, Washougal Police Officer Francis Reagan, have educated themselves about pediatric cancer and bone marrow transplants.
Francis said the diagnosis was devastating at first and surprising.
The relapse was more devastating, he said.
“It’s even worse,” Francis said. “The survival rates go down. You’re hit even harder.”
Lauren said Declan needs a bone marrow transplant to increase his life expectancy odds.
His second diagnosis complicates the treatment plan, she said.
“Both cancers need to be in remission before a transplant,” Lauren added.
A bone marrow registry is available at join.bethematch.org/declanthedino.
One in 430 people is a bone marrow match, according to Lauren.
“Declan has enrolled 161 people in the bone marrow registry,” she said.
The goal is 430 people.
“We are using this platform to help others,” Lauren said. “We’re going to save someone.”
When the Acute Myeloid Leukemia returned this year, Lauren left her job as the group room coordinator at The Nines hotel in Portland to become Declan’s full-time caretaker.
Lauren had spent 10 years in the hospitality industry.
Both employers have been supportive, Lauren said, regarding the Washougal Police Department and The Nines.
Francis and Lauren are grateful for the support they have received from area police officers, some of whom have provided gas money and dropped off meals for the family.
Personnel from additional police departments have had their cheeks swabbed to determine if they could be bone marrow matches.
Lauren said her husband’s background as a Navy Seal and a police officer has helped him cope. Francis has been with the WPD since December of 2014. He graduated from the Basic Law Enforcement Academy, in Burien, Washington, in May of 2015.
One of the ways Lauren has coped with her son’s diagnoses is through outreach — by giving back to other families affected by pediatric cancer who are living in hospitals during their children’s treatment.
She has partnered with the American Childhood Cancer Organization and created a “Declan the Dinosaur” hope fund at www.acco.org/declan. Donations help cover medical expenses.
Declan and Adrian enjoy going to parks, and they like to pretend to be dinosaurs — complete with costumes.
“In the hospital, Declan watched ‘Jurassic World’ four to five times a day,” Lauren said.
McCord’s Vancouver Toyota has donated $5,000 to the “Declan the Dinosaur” fund.
The Camas-Washougal Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4278 provided $1,500 to cover one month’s mortgage payment for the Reagan family.
“We’ve never been a family to ask for help,” Lauren said.
When Declan is at Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, in Portland, Lauren said it is helpful to walk three blocks to a New Seasons grocery store and buy nutritious food.
“I take a moment for myself,” she said. “That would be my advice for others (in similar situations).”
Declan has received four rounds of chemotherapy — a total of 79 doses. He also has had two surgeries, five bone marrow punctures and 40 blood product transfusions.
During chemo, Declan’s hair fell out. When it grew back, Lauren said her son could have any color hair he wanted. Now, Declan sports blue hair.
Francis’ brother, Dustin, had cancer at the age of 5, and continues to have a phobia about hospitals. But Declan does not fear the hospital.
“The nurses and doctors at Randall have become family,” Lauren said. “There are dance parties in his room.”
When Declan was first diagnosed with cancer, a doctor told the Reagan family that the medical staff would be with them during all of it.
“They have the biggest hearts,” Lauren said.
“We have bonded with other parents (of children with cancer),” she added. “We are stronger together. We are anxious over scans and we can vent with them.”
Washougal Mayor Sean Guard is organizing “Dudes with Donations for Declan” fundraiser to raise money for families affected by pediatric cancer from noon to 1 p.m., Saturday, April 29, at the Camas-Washougal Fire Station 43, 1400 “A” St., Washougal.
Guard plans to have his head and beard shaved.
“He reached out to us, and we suggested some ideas,” Lauren said. “It would bring attention to childhood cancer.”
“He offered to host, and we hope to attend,” she added. “The community outreach has been overwhelming.”
Guard is challenging other local officials, as well as first-responder families, police and fire personnel, to gather pledges and donations and get shaved.
“They have a young child in need,” Guard said regarding the Reagans, his inspiration for the shaving event. “I would hope it is what most people would do.”
There will be “Take a Bite out of Cancer” T-shirts and bracelets for sale at the event, and the “Be the Match” registry will be on-site to perform cheek swabs on people interested in joining the registry.
For more information about the event, visit www.facebook.com/DeclantheDinosaur.
The money raised will purchase gas and grocery gift cards for other families affected by pediatric cancer.
Donations for the Reagan family can be dropped off or mailed to the Washougal Police Department, c/o Officer Francis Reagan, 1320 “A” St., Washougal, WA 98671.
In the meantime, Francis and Lauren plan to continue sharing Declan’s story.
“We want to take this attention and do something good with it,” Lauren said.
“This is the worst hand you could ever get,” she added. “We’re just going to make the best of it.”