By the time Harrison finishes he will have spent more than a quarter of his life in treatment for cancer. More than one fourth of his days will have included taking pills, fearing infection, and fighting the anxieties associated with childhood cancer.
For some families we have met that number increases dramatically. Some children have spent that portion of their lives in the hospital for treatment. At least Harrison’s fight is spent mostly out of the hospital. We know parents who have had to quit jobs to move from more remote parts of our state to Chapel Hill. Other parents have to leave their cancer kid in a hospital room for days at a time because they have to work. When we have been in-patient, parents have, on more than one occasion, asked us to check in on their little one so they could go home or go to work.
While Harrison will have spent much of his childhood with this dreaded disease, we know there are situations much worse. And we are trying to make life as normal as possible for him. Some kids can’t run and play. At least Harrison can still do most of hte things he did before. And, amazingly, do them nearly as well.
I’ve been surprised by so many things since Harrison was diagnosed. But the biggest surprise has been Harrison’s resilience. Just dealing with a cancer diagnosis is enough to send many people I’ve known into depression. But add to that a stroke, failed remission, fungal infection, a deadly case of the flu, several unknown infections, and pretty soon you start to ask, “How much can a kid take and still keep ticking.”
But as Harrison went off to basketball camp for the second day it struck me like a ton a bricks. He may be a boy with cancer, but he’s still all boy.