Shane Lang is 8 years old and loves Lego, Spiderman and playing soccer. On Feb. 23, the Melville resident got on the school bus with his three siblings, but by that night, he was in Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was diagnosed with T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Shane’s illness came as a shock to his parents, Jenn and George Lang, and Shane’s siblings – 11-year-old twins George and Hunter and 6-year-old Sophie – with whom he is very close.
The first inking that something was wrong came in mid-January, when Shane had a sudden bout of partial paralysis in his face. This was originally thought to be a case of Bell’s palsy, a temporary condition that is sometimes caused by viruses.
Shane’s parents took him for several tests to try to uncover what had caused his symptoms. He tested negative for each illness that was investigated, but the repeated complete blood counts he underwent revealed an increasing white blood cell count. Shane also displayed a sudden lack of energy and decreased appetite. Concerned, his parents took him to a new neurologist, who ran more tests.
“The neurologist called after Shane had left for school and told Jenn to pick him up and take him straight to the ER,” says Jillian Auclair, Jenn Lang’s sister. “They did a chest X-ray, which revealed a large mass in his chest cavity. Shane was admitted to the hospital, where he was given a bone marrow biopsy and spinal tap, both of which revealed he had leukemia.”
Shane was released from the hospital after about 10 days, and his prognosis is good, according to Auclair. But he will undergo eight months of intense chemotherapy and nearly three years of treatment in all.
As Shane and his family face a rough road ahead, Auclair started a GoFundMe page to help cover medical and unexpected expenses.
“Shane will be going back and forth for treatments for a long time, and the ability of my sister and brother-in-law to work is questionable, since they also have to be there for their other three kids,” Auclair says.