Thursday, February 26, 2009

For the love of Hunter: Sumner County boy triumphing in last round of serious chemo

The body reacts differently to chemotherapy deep into potentially terminal leukemia.

All chemo kills cells, good and bad. But after the body has been pummeled for months and months by chemo, it makes a decision that doctors cannot predict but prayers can only answer.

It revives. It bounces back from the chemo quicker and stays stronger longer. And what once weakened to fragility, now is more willingly accepted by the body and incorporated in a revival of health.

I can say with increasing confidence that such is the case with 6-year-old Hunter, as he passes the first of three weeks of extra-ordinary chemo to stay in remission and return to a near normal life of maintenance chemo.

Wednesday, he had another spinal tap to get the chemo to his brain. Then he had to have blood, which is a frustratingly slow three-hour process. But his spirits were high as we watched his favorite show about something about "Cody", one of twin blond boys who sing and act with integrity.

It is quite good. We also played with Wonders of Nature figurines, which come in tribes from the sea, volcano and forest.

It is so wonderful to see this boy surge forward, even growing a half inch. His strength is reminiscent of the vitality that returned to my body after I almost died from the same leukemia at Vanderbilt two years ago. Prayers do make a difference.

And wonder of wonders -- peach fuzz has emerged on his previously bald head. You see, the body does catch up. Praise be to God.

Hunter will get less chemo next week at the Monroe Carell Jr. Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. It becomes a more marvelous place for me to visit each week. And the good people there in the waiting rooms -- on the third floor pediatric surgery center and the sixth floor cancer treatment area -- are so patient and loving. An Amish lady and her daughter were there yesterday. And a grandmother was grabbing a quick nap as her grandchild was in surgery.

You can't help but want to pray for each of these people over and over. You know they would rather be receiving the chemo or be in surgery. But they can't.

So we must pray. And hope, that like Hunter, their loved ones are being readied for much better and more normal days to come.

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