This is the story of Thomas.
He has leukemia. Actually this will be his second relapse, and third time to battle the most 'common' type of childhood cancer - leukemia. I knew Thomas before I even met him. Let me explain. Lisa, Thomas' mom went to school with Mike at the University of Texas and for a brief time one summer, lived at what is now our house, but back then it was just called 'the beach house'. Over the years Lisa kept in touch with Mike's grandparents, and one Christmas I remember sitting at Mike's grandmother's kitchen table as she read her Christmas cards to me with tears in her eyes. She received a card from Lisa and her husband Gary saying that their three-year old son, Thomas had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. As Mike's grandmother wept, I tried to imagine what it would be like to be in Lisa's shoes -- I couldn't though. No one can.
We followed Thomas' story as he valiantly received his scheduled 3 1/2 years of chemothereapy treatment. Our families kept in close touch with each other over the years, especially after Johnny was diagnosed with leukemia in 2005. By the age of 8, Thomas was considered a long-term survivor (cancer/treatment free for 5 years), unfortunately it wasn't for long. Thomas relapsed when he was eleven years old, and because of the type of leukemia, the protocol didn't require a bone marrow transplant. This time the protocol was only 2 1/2 years and things were going well when suddenly, while still in treatment, Thomas relapsed again, only this time in his central nervous system (CNS - spinal fluid).
At the age of 13, with most of his life spent receiving chemotherapy, Thomas is fighting the battle against leukemia again. This time his best chance for survival (40-50% - which is considered 'great') is to have a bone marrow transplant. Our hearts ached to hear of Thomas' relapse. It's something only a parent who has faced this battle with cancer for the first, second or third time, could understand. No amount of photos or writing/blogging could take the place of first hand experience.
So I asked Thomas if I bought him a video camera, would he take videos of his journey and allow me to post them on our site, to try and convey to everyone, on some level, what it's like to be a 13-year-old kid battling cancer for the third time? He said yes. So here are the first few installments of the Story of T and what it's like to hear you have a 40-50% chance of survival, when you're 13 years old. It's hard to imagine, I know. But Thomas and his family are going to show us what treatment looks like and why we need your help to raise awareness and funding for cutting-edge research and improved treatment options for our children battling the number one killer by disease - leukemia.
Let me know what you think at: Julie@JohnnyKicksCancer.org
Godspeed T. The world is watching and we are behind you.
Thomas and the City of Austin Proclamation that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month.
If you would like to follow The Story of T, please go to JohnnyKicksCancer.org website.