June, 2007. School was out and summer fun had just begun when 15-year-old Lance Cook fell ill. First diagnosed with a sinus infection, Lance grew sicker and sicker. Within days, the big, strong, healthy Ashford High School student lost control of his lower body and the ability to walk. His parents took him to the emergency room of the local hospital, where physicians immediately prepared him for transport to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.
Children’s neurologist Dr. Jayne Ness diagnosed Lance with combined acute disseminated encephalomyelitis and transverse myelitis, diseases that strip the nerves and spinal cord of their protective covering. The result is paralysis.
Dr. Ness, Dr. Drew Davis and a team of other physicians, nurses and therapists began an aggressive treatment regimen with Lance, but days, then weeks, went by and Lance still could not walk. Yet Lance wouldn’t give up. ”God just really gave me the strength and the heart to carry on,” Lance says, “because I knew I couldn’t give up and be in that chair forever. So I went to work.” Finally, a pre-dawn phone call from the hospital woke Dr. Ness with the good news—treatment was working. Lance could move his legs again.
October, 2007. Classes at Ashford High School have resumed and Lance walks the halls. Not as fast or effortlessly as before. But he’s walking. And that’s why Lance Cook is a child of Children’s.