Despite setbacks, Logan Hale shows resiliency in cancer battle
Since early January, Logan Hale and his mom Kristina have had too many days like Monday: Holed up in a tiny two-patient room in the pediatric wing at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in Manhattan, with nurses and doctors coming in and out to check Logan’s temperature and blood cell count and give him injections.
A sixth grader at East Ridge Middle School, Logan celebrated his 11th birthday in late December, a few weeks after he and his family joined another family for an annual trip to Disney World in Orlando, Fla. When Logan subsequently developed a fever and other flu-like symptoms, Kristina thought it was notable only because of her son’s track record.
“We used to joke around saying he was the kid who never got sick,” she said. “He didn’t even get colds.”
Maybe Logan was just too active, too busy — viruses ran out of breath before they could run him down. He played football, travel basketball, lacrosse ... won medals at national taekwondo competitions ... loved working on new skateboard tricks. He was also an aspiring actor who had appeared in five films (four shorts, one feature) and several commercials, earning his own IMDb page.
But that fever and flu-like symptoms ... Logan wasn’t able to shake them. He was admitted to Danbury Hospital on Jan. 3 and released a week later after he began feeling a little better and his blood cell count rose. One day later, though, he was again sleepy and sluggish and taken to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford.
“On Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. we found out he had leukemia,” Kristina said. “He didn’t have the normal markers, so it took a little longer for the diagnosis (cold b-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia). It was made after they did a bone-marrow aspiration.”
Three days later, Logan was transported by ambulance to Sloan Kettering, the world reknowned cancer treatment and research institution on the far east side of midtown Manhattan. Except for a few visits home to Ridgefield — the longest of which was 10 days in March — Logan and his mom have been at Sloan Kettering since then.
“Logan has hit every bump possible,” Kristina said. “He’s been allergic to pretty much everything, including the material in his bandage dressings.”
Most troubling was Logan’s allergy to a drug commonly used during the second phase of chemotherapy.
“He had to switch from that drug, which is administered through an IV, to one that is injected,” Kristina said. “He has also required numerous blood and platelet transfusions ... his blood cell count gets low and he gets fevers easily.”
Another complication — this one logistical — has come from the coronavirus pandemic. Due to Sloan Kettering’s COVID-19 visitation policy, Logan is not allowed to see friends, his dad (David), or his 17-year-old brother (Ethan).
“Only one parent is allowed,” Kristina said. “And when he is at Sloan Kettering I have to be here, too. I can’t leave until he is discharged, so I sleep on a fold-out chair in his room, which we share with another patient and parent.”
After the initial diagnosis, Matthew Chojnacki — the head coach of Logan’s fifth and sixth grade Ridgefield Youth Football teams — started a Go Fund Me page (Help Logan Beat Leukemia) to help the Hale family cover medical expenses. As of Tuesday, the page had raised $20,255.
“I’ve known Logan for probably five or six years ... he and my son started taekwondo at the same time,” Chojnacki said. “He’s just a great kid from a great family ... they are in a tough situation.”
Logan’s teammates raised money to buy him some presents, and Ridgefield Youth Football gave the Hale family two $500 gift cards and matched the first $1,000 raised on the Go Fund Me page. The mother of a teammate also began a meals program to deliver food to Logan’s older brother in Ridgefield. That program is on hold due to coronavirus precautions.
Chojnacki said the players on this fall’s seventh grade team will wear orange ribbons on their helmets to honor Logan. Orange is the color representing Leukemia Awareness.
“Logan was thrilled when I told him about the ribbons the other day,” Kristina said. “He couldn’t believe they would do that for him.”
Despite the treatment setbacks, Kristina remains hopeful that Logan — who recently finished the second phase of chemotherapy — will enter remission and eventually be cancer free.
“His resiliency is inspiring,” she said. “He keeps focusing on the day when he can return to playing football and basketball and lacrosse and doing taekwondo . His attitude is really something else.”