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Meet ASK Kid Tecumseh

ASK Kourageous Kid Tecumseh

Tecumseh’s family noticed something wasn’t right when the bright, energetic son and brother they knew became pale and tired. After three nights in the emergency room at VCU, 13-year-old Tecumseh (TK, for short) was diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a common form of leukemia. Though this awful news hit the family hard, he was given a good prognosis and would have a community of support coming their way before they knew it.

“We were completely overwhelmed by the diagnosis of leukemia for our sweet boy, and we didn’t know what we needed or even what we should ask for,” says Tecumseh’s mom, Samantha. “Then, this angel named Katie appeared in Clinic and told us that ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation was here to help us navigate this new and foreign journey. It never occurred to us to ask for anything, but whatever we needed – then and now – was given freely.”

“ASK knows how to help and they just do it. It requires nothing from me. I don’t even make requests sometimes and there they are, with exactly what we need without any fanfare,” Samantha continues.

“Some of these things seem so little and insignificant, and yet when something like this happens, it’s the little things you need.”

Among the types of support TK's family received include gas cards and bill assistance to help ease the impact of childhood cancer on their family’s budget. Later on, as TK and his parents prepared for his transition back to the classroom, ASK was there to guide them through the process and make sure he had the resources and accommodations he needed to be successful.

“Jon Longenecker [ASK Education Support Navigator] has been incredibly helpful in helping Tecumseh and us in his transition back to school! Tecumseh started back to school in person in January – almost a year after this initial diagnosis – and we could not have done it without Jon’s support,” Samantha recalls. “He helped guide us through the 504 process and was by our side as we met with school administrators. Last year, I had no idea that ASK provided these services and it’s been an incredible resource for us!”

ASK Kourageous Kid Tecumseh and his three younger siblings

Proud of their Native American heritage, Tecumseh’s family has found community in the citizens of the Pamunkey Tribe, who have remained a critical lifeline throughout their childhood cancer journey. We look forward to welcoming TK and his three younger siblings to upcoming ASK events like Summer Camp, where they can continue building community with others who understand what they’ve been through.

TK with his family at ASK's annual Kourageous Kids party this past summer! We host this event each year to celebrate the strength and resilience of families with children diagnosed with cancer and sickle cell disease.

“Our biggest struggle as the parents of a sick child is making sure everyone in our family feels supported and gets what they need, in spite of cancer and treatment schedules,” Samantha shares. “Having ASK as a resource that is so closely tied to the clinical team but also supporting families through programming and services, is invaluable. Someone is paying attention to the science of diagnosis, but ASK is paying attention to the impact on the family.”

“It’s a well-established protocol of three years of chemotherapy, but an intensive six to nine months of aggressive chemo,” Samantha explains. “He’s responding well to treatment, and I continue to be impressed with his resilience, grace and humor. He is still his sweet, kind self, even during the worst of the chemo.”


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