May 02, 2009

The Fight

I stood at the entry way greeting people.

He came in, in his wheelchair, his mother pushing him, his inability to walk due to the surgeons shaving off his femurs to rid him of infection.

When he's better, he's going to have hip replacements. He hopes that's next year.

He appears, by the length of his legs, to be nearly 6 feet tall. A tall gangly boy/man is what he should be, all of 21 years old.

It was the first time I'd been able to meet him, his mother I have met a few times, we all know of him, our Hero, but it was the first I'd seen him in person.

We know his story.

His skin is red... all of it, as if sunburned. Arms, face, neck, legs, all of him, so red, lobster red, and peeling. He wore a hat and sunglasses. His skin flaking white even more noticeable against the deep red skin...

His niece sat on his lap. She is one. This is how she knows her uncle, in a chair, in a bed, fighting.

He gently blew on her cornsilk white hair as she giggled to get down and run.

At one point he slowly took off his hat and scratched his head. His hair, it was the same length as his mother's and that is when I knew for sure, she had shaved her head the same time his hair fell out... again. I was torn as to whether she kept her hair short or if she'd shaved it recently.

I got my answer.

His hair came back a mixture of black and dark gray, with patches of white hair mixed throughout. I wondered what color it was when he was 14. I suspect it was black.

He looks so much like his mother.

He took his sunglasses off and rubbed his eyes. They are dry and his eyelashes have yet to grow back. I think his eyes are irritated... perhaps by whatever treatment caused his skin to be so red and dry.

So many steroids. So much chemotherapy. So many painkillers.

So much love.

A smile and a way about him that is infectious... you don't want to shy away from him, but rather engage him and get to know him.

We know of him, as he's our Hero, but I had never met him, today I think he stole my heart.

21 years old.

For the last 7 years he has fought Leukemia. It is what he knows. He never went through what my eldest boy will grow through, crushes on girls, holding hands, a first kiss, going to the movies with buddies, learning to drive.

His life has been a Leukemic prison, a life his mother has fought to make as normal as possible.

And he fights.

I am not sure what I was expecting. I'd seen pictures of him at 14, but not of him as a man. Not of him having fought this disease into adulthood.

My training starts again for Leukemia Lymphoma on Monday. I'll lace up my shoes and start training again... I've not done any running since the marathon in January.

And with every step I take, I'll be thinking of him. And his fight. And wondering of the human spirit and perserverance.

I meet my new teammates next Saturday. I will be mentoring them and I'm excited.

It is a good cause... we are all committed.

Although I have my personal Honored Hero this go round as my cousin fights chronic leukemia, I will also be thinking of him.

If what we do, running these marathons, cycling 100 mile events, completing triathlons, will do what needs to be done to find a cure... then it's all worth it.

No other 14 year old should ever have to fight to be a man.

Not like that.


Posted by Boudicca at May 2, 2009 08:21 PM

Oh, Bou.... good luck with your training, and know that all of us out here follopwing your journey are now connected to your hero. Please keep us posted...

Posted by: Joanne at May 4, 2009 09:43 AM

Go get 'em!

My aunt battled leukemia for a decade before it won.

Good luck and God bless.

Posted by: Ted at May 4, 2009 09:55 AM