Leukemia patients face a number of challenges to continued living. Besides the cancer, the treatment is often fatal. As I have written before, as many kids die from the chemo and associated side effects as die from the disease itself. One doctor called leukemia treatment “barbaric.” Doubtless one day people look at how we treat these kids and will be as shocked as we are that physicians used to put leeches on cancer patients.
But perhaps the biggest challenge to people with blood cancers like leukemia is blood. I’ve lost count of the number of transfusions Harrison has undergone during his three months of treatment. We expect several more in the future, particularly during this “frontline” treatment (the first seven months or so). Blood is as important to Harrison, and other kids fighting leukemia, as is the chemotherapy. Without blood donations no one fighting blood cancer, whether kids or adults, would be able to survive.
If you are able to donate blood, please consider doing so. If you want to donate, and you live in the Raleigh-Durham area, consider joining us at North Raleigh Christian Academy on March 30, at a blood drive honoring Harrison along with his friend Gabe Pinon and the memory of Rebecca Simpson, a remarkable young woman who fought leukemia for four years before passing away at the age of 17.
Rebecca not only endured the terrible chemotherapy treatments, but also a bone marrow transplant. Amazingly, Rebecca, who was diagnosed in the eighth grade, earned enough credits to graduate from high school at NRCA just days before succumbing to leukemia.
Gabe is now a sixth grader at NRCA who fought leukemia as a preschooler. He’s now several years off treatment (OT in the parlance), and is doing well. Unfortunately, Gabe, like Harrison, had clotting in his brain and endured a stroke. While he fights the effects of that event, he’s still in remission and is an incredibly active and successful soccer player.
You can find out more at the American Red Cross.