The Connecticut Post Online - Students send hope to principal's son
Students send hope to principal's son MELVIN MASON Mmason@ctpost.com Article
Last Updated: 02/04/2007 04:40:24 AM EST
Click photo to enlarge Photos of LaDora Twitty's son Cameron, hang on the
wall of her office at Prendergast School in...
ANSONIA — Students at Prendergast Elementary School may not totally
understand everything that's happening to their principal's son. But they do
know young Cameron Twitty is not feeling so great these days, and they want him
to get better just as much as his mom does.
The signs of support for Prendergast Principal LaDora Twitty and her ailing
12-year-old son Cameron are evident in the school's halls and offices. Students
and teachers speak of their concern, compassion and a lot of hope for the boy.
Some even wear a red wristband in support of Cameron.
"I'm very touched. It's very touching to see so many people care," Twitty
said, repeatedly offering how much she misses her job.
Cameron said the messages make him feel "special.
"It just makes me feel like I'm loved and stuff and that people care about
me," he said.
Twitty took a leave of absence from her job in order to be with Cameron, who
was diagnosed with X-linked Lymphoproliferative Syndrome, also known as XLP.
This rare immunodeficiency disorder is diagnosed in one out of a million
Symptoms of XLP include severe, life-threatening mononucleosis, with fever,
inflammation, sore throat, swollen lymph glands, an enlargement of the spleen
and liver and abnormal liver function.
The only treatment for Cameron's condition is a bone marrow transplant. Last
month, he went to the Cincinnati Children's Hospital in Ohio for treatment and
to help locate a marrow donor.
The best news in Advertisement Click Here! months arrived at Prendergast
Elementary School on Wednesday, when Twitty called to announce that a donor
match for her son had been found. But it will take some time before she returns
The departure of the principal's smiling face from the halls has Prendergast
students asking plenty of questions. And some of them are reaching out to keep
Cameron's and his mother's spirits up.
Anita Bazelewicz's class of second-graders were among the first at
Prendergast to keep in touch with Twitty and Cameron after she took time off.
The class has sent Cameron e-mail messages and visited his page at the
CaringBridge.org Web site.
Last week, students asked about how he was doing, what his favorite sport is,
and sent him a few jokes so he could enjoy a little laughter.
Patrick Palmer, 7, was happy to send a joke or two to Cameron.
"It's sad. He's going through a rough thing," Patrick said.
Early on, it was mostly teachers keeping in contact with Twitty and Cameron.
Now, school staff will begin collecting letters and cards with well wishes
for the young man as he continues his treatment, according to acting Principal
The students don't know much about Cameron's illness, O'Brien said. But they
do know Twitty is home caring for him and they're concerned for her, as well as
"They say 'Tell Ms. Twitty I miss her and I hope he feels better,' " O'Brien
said. "It makes sense to them. Mommy is staying home with her child."
Bazelewicz said most of the students do not really know what is happening
They do know that he needs bone marrow and know his body has a hard time
fighting germs. Reaching out to him, she said, makes them feel like they're
helping him get better.
"Some of the boys relate to him," Bazelewicz said, noting that some of her
students are New England Patriots fans, as is Cameron. "He's only a few years
older than them. They're sad he's sick."
Second-grader Shelby Nolan, 7, can't wait for Cameron to feel better so she
can share a smile with him. She also wants to see "Ms. Twitty" again, so she can
give her a big hug "because I miss her."
For her part, Twitty is excited to finally have a donor for Cameron and happy
when she reads the responses from her pupils.
The school has rallied around Twitty and Cameron in many ways.
Teachers have created gift baskets that will be raffled off to benefit the
family as it pays Cameron's medical bills.
The school district will also host a Feb. 12 pasta dinner at Ansonia High
School as a fundraiser; it runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Snow date is Feb. 13. Tickets
are $10 for adults, $7 for children 4-11 and free to kids under 3. Tickets may
be purchased at the following locations: Ansonia High School, Ansonia Middle
School, Mead School, Central Office and the mayor's office. For more information
Melvin Mason, who covers the Naugatuck Valley, can be reached at 736-5440
The New Haven Register (nhregister.com), Serving New Haven, CT
Past Stories After ordeal, boy glad to return to school
Monday, December 31, 2007
By Pamela McLoughlin
NEW HAVEN ' For most school children, the holiday vacation is never long
But seventh-grader Cameron Twitty can't wait to walk through the doors of
Wintergreen Inter-district Magnet SchoolWednesday.
Cameron, 13, will return after being out since September of 2006 because of
an immune system disorder so rare it only affects one in a million males.
'I'm excited and happy to go back to school,' said Cameron. 'I missed my
friends and my teachers ' most of my teachers.'
Twitty has spent the last 14 months or so battling X-linked
Lymphoproliferative Syndrome, or XLP for short.
He just got word a few days ago that he can start school. That speaks volumes
about how high doctors put his immune system, because being around a lot of
people, especially children, has been taboo.
For Cameron, a social kid, the side affects of chemotherapy that prepared him
for a bone marrow transplant were easier than being away from his friends.
Cameron will have to wash his hands a lot and isn't yet allowed to change his
cat Simba's litter box, but, otherwise, he's good to go. His school days will be
abbreviated in the beginning.
He came home from Cincinnati Children's Hospital just before Thanksgiving
after being away from Connecticut for nearly a year because of treatment.
'It's been wonderful to have him home,' dad Michael Twitty said. 'Everything
is going well.'
During those first months of illness in 2006, Twitty was confined to his
house, where germs were of great concern. So, he couldn't see friends, play
sports or go out.
Cameron, who had to put amodeling and acting career on hold, didn't let the
illness wipe him out.
He stayed remarkably focused on getting better, spreading the word that he
believed in miracles.
That resolve helped adults in his life keep faith as well.
When he got the call to go to Cincinnati Children's Hospital, he and his mom,
LaDora Twitty, had to fly by private jet because there would be too many germs
on a commercial flight.
In late April, after chemotherapy and a tough search for a suitable bone
marrow donor, Cameron finally had a bone-marrow recipient ' his only hope for
Cameron kept in touch with friends and schoolmates by webcam, e-mail and
other technological wonders of today. His class sent a DVD of themselves and
made a Patriots quilt for him, filled with personal messages.
But it was never the same as being with them.
Now, with his return to school imminent, Cameron is smiling, laughing,
jumping and gets on the couch by launching himself over the back like a rocket.
His teenage sarcasm mechanism is working well, too.
'He made a new house rule,' Cameron said of his dad, making quote marks in
the air around 'house rule.' 'Everytime the Patriots play, no other TV show can
Cameron said he feels great, but tires a little easier than usual; doctors
told him to exercise.
'His motto, 'Cameron believes in miracles,' has proven true,' said his mom,
She said he's had tutors and done a lot of the same class work and read a lot
of the same books as his classmates, but he'll be happy for everything to get
back to normal.
LaDora Twitty, who moved to Cincinnati with Cameron, resigned from her job as
principal of Prendergast Elementary School in Ansonia to care for Cameron'as
doctors feared that in that job she'd be exposed to many germs through students.
Michael Twitty, a New Haven public schools official, spent the summer in
Cincinnati with his son and said he was blessed that coworkers donated vacation
time so he could take many trips out to see Cameron during the year.
Michael Twitty said he learned from his youngest son to 'never give up.' 'You
have to keep the faith,' Michael Twitty said.
Cameron's continued belief in miracles ' despite setbacks he experiencied
along the way 'has been contagious to many. Family friend Carroll Brown ' who as
president of the West Haven Black Coalition spearheaded many fundraisers for
Cameron's cause, raising thousands of dollars ' said, 'When he (Cameron) did not
lose faith, it kept my faith strong.' Cameron'solderbrother, Corey, a Dean's
List student at Connecticut College, said Cameron's close call has taught him to
enjoy every moment they have together and to live life to the fullest.
'I spend as much time as I can hanging out with him,' Coreysaid. ' It makes
you appreciate and cherish the time you have.'
Cameron can talk potassium, magnesium, feeding tubes, lethargy and other
medical jargon better than most adults, but he has no interest in the medical
field as a future, because he says he's tired of hospitals.
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