NEWS | April 1, 2020

UC Davis pediatric cancer patient is loving his life


First-time parents, Kyle and Geoff Westbrook of Sacramento, were concerned about their 18-month-old son, Marshall. His fevers were intermittent, but too frequent to attribute to usual childhood ills like teething. When his fever spiked, he was lethargic and wanted to be held all the time. He was a cuddler by nature, but this was different.

Cancer patient Marshall Westbrook has a full head of hair now, as well as a full life. Cancer patient Marshall Westbrook has a full head of hair now, as well as a full life.

In coordination with their UC Davis pediatrician, the Westbrooks began monitoring, taking Marshall’s temperature daily. The fevers persisted.

“It had been going on for what felt like a long time and he seemed to be getting worse. I knew we were dealing with something serious, but I didn’t know what,” said Marshall’s mom, Kyle Westbrook. After blood tests in the morning, he was referred to UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center pediatric hematology/oncology and admitted to UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

“They expedited our admission and we got the initial diagnosis that day: B-cell high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia,” Westbrook said. “Marshall needed immediate treatment.”

That was the beginning of the Westbrooks’ journey into the world of childhood cancer and the world of UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

“It was amazing how quickly they shepherded us through the process, immediately enveloping us in all aspects of care,” Westbrook said. “They did a phenomenal job answering our questions and establishing trust with Marshall.”

That trust and collaborative approach to treating children would pay dividends for the family. Frequent visits to the Emergency Department, the Children’s Surgery Center and 10 hospitalizations could have been far more traumatic had it not been for the UC Davis team, said Westbrook.

“From the beginning, they set us up for success. The team tailored everything to meet the needs of Marshall and our family,” Westbrook said. “Not only was our son getting the best medical care, we were all learning how to cope. They offered skills and ideas well beyond the confines of the hospital room.”

Westbrook is especially grateful to the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy team for making Marshall’s time in treatment a positive experience and for keeping him on track developmentally.

“Child Life helped create a loving, accommodating environment. They transformed the hospital into a magical place,” Westbrook said. “It was a vibrant world for a child. I can’t tell you how much Child Life brought to us.”

Marshall is on his third cycle of maintenance and his body has been responsive to treatment. He now has a full head of hair and is “loving his life,” according to his mom. The Westbrooks have a long road ahead but look forward with confidence knowing UC Davis Children’s Hospital will continue to provide the comprehensive support they have come to count on.

UC Davis Children's Hospital is the Sacramento region's only nationally ranked, comprehensive hospital providing care for infants, children, adolescents and young adults with primary, subspecialty and critical care. It includes the Central Valley's only pediatric emergency department and level I pediatric trauma center, which offers the highest level of care for its critically ill patients, as well as a level I children’s surgery center. The 129-bed children's hospital includes the state-of-the-art 49-bed neonatal and 24-bed pediatric intensive care and pediatric cardiac intensive care units. For more information, visit