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Landon and Luke Stephens are two peas in a pod. Even though the brothers are six years apart, the boys have many things in common: they enjoy playing outdoors, they enjoy raising animals for stock shows and they spend a lot of time at our medical center. While Landon and Luke are basically twins, their Cook Children's journeys to battle Crohn's disease are very different.
Landon was diagnosed in 2015 and Luke was diagnosed in 2020. Each brother received their diagnosis at 10 years old, but it took Landon, the older of the two brothers and first to be diagnosed, three years to confirm that he had Crohn's disease. Tisha, Landon and Luke's mom, shared that it was a very difficult time for their family.
"It was rough," Tisha said. "We went to a lot of places to get answers. Landon lost 30 pounds before they could confirm what he had. We finally took him to Cook Children's and we interacted with a doctor who was on call. She admitted Landon and he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. It was really scary."
Once Landon was given a diagnosis, the Stephens family was relived. Unfortunately, Landon continues to battle symptoms such as abdominal pain and has endured multiple surgeries since his diagnosis. His most recent surgery included the removal of a large, damaged portion of his small intestine. It was full of strictures, an area of muscle that contracts over time and narrows passageways. This stopped Landon's small intestine from letting food pass through his digestive system and caused him a great deal of pain.
While Landon shared that being a frequent visitor of the medical center can be challenging, he is thankful for the Cook Children's Gastroenterology (GI) team. He is also very thankful for Kate, a counselor who works with our GI patients.
"When I had surgery, Kate talked to me about being able to mentally handle it," Landon said. "It was hard. I came into the hospital for a regular visit and the next day, they told me I was going to have surgery. It all happened very quickly and it was overwhelming. She talked me through it and it really helped."
Landon's brother Luke's health care journey has been similar, but with less severe symptoms. Luke started to lose weight and get sick, but this time Tisha said they caught it quickly.
Luke's care has been relatively easy to manage since his diagnosis. Luke visits Cook Children's every eight weeks to receive infusions, which can sometimes take up to four hours. The infusions work to slow his immune system from attacking his digestive system and help Luke manage his Crohn's disease.
And while four hours seems like a long time to be at the medical center for each infusion appointment, the Stephens agree that it is worth the wait. Tisha shared that their family resides in De Leon, Texas, about a 90-minute drive from Fort Worth. Tisha said that Luke and Landon would not receive this level of care in their hometown.
"I really think Landon would not be here without Cook Children's," Tisha said. "I give credit to the GI team for helping both of my boys. They do amazing things here. They make the kids forget that they are sick while they are visiting. The kids don't mind being at the medical center because the physicians and staff know how to make them comfortable."
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