Every fall, we do our intramural basketball camps with games at Silver Creek Elementary as part of our high school basketball program. Each year, you get to meet cool kids who are playing and learning about basketball for one reason, they love the game.
This fall, I met a new cool kid, Aiden Johnson. Aiden is like many kids his age in all the things that he does, except for one thing, he is fighting for his life after being diagnosed with leukemia at an early, early age. From https://kosairchildrenshospital.myetap.org/fundraiser/ALL/ :
On Feb. 20, 2007, at age 2, Aiden came home from day care with a mild fever and swollen lymph nodes in his neck. Thinking he might have tonsillitis, his mother made an appointment with his pediatrician for the following day. Aiden’s doctor, Richard Boada, M.D., looked him over and took a blood test. After receiving the results, Dr. Boada said he thought his blood testing machine was broken and sent Aiden to the hospital to have the blood test redone. Another finger poke and tube of blood later, the hospital ran the test and asked to redo it using blood from a vein instead of a finger.
Dr. Boada called Aiden’s family that evening and explained that he and the oncology team at Kosair Children’s Hospital believed Aiden had leukemia. Aiden needed to get to the hospital right away. The emergency department doctors at Kosair Children’s Hospital confirmed that Aiden had high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia. His white blood cell count was extremely high at 232,000; normal is 4,000 to 12,000. Over the next 3 1/2 years, Aiden had a procedure called apheresis, three central line placements, chemotherapy treatments, numerous lumbar punctures, countless blood and platelet transfusions, finger pokes two to three times a week, bone marrow aspirations and lost his hair, but he was a strong, brave little boy through it all. Aiden received his last chemotherapy treatment on his sixth birthday — and what a celebration he had! Aiden went to kindergarten and first grade as a healthy, happy little boy. Then in July 2012, at the age of 8, his cancer returned. He had been in remission for five years, and off treatment for two. Life was once again turned upside down. Aiden was placed on an intermediate-risk therapy treatment, which required him to receive an additional two to 2 1/2 years of intense chemotherapy treatments. Aiden was admitted to the hospital right away and had his fourth central line placed. He had two testicular biopsies and suffered a blood clot that required having part of his stomach lining removed. He currently endures two to three injections daily, lumbar punctures and two to three finger pokes a week. He takes 12 to 15 pills daily, has lost his hair twice, receives frequent blood and platelet transfusions, and almost always receives his chemotherapy treatments as an inpatient at Kosair Children’s Hospital. Aiden is home-tutored to help him keep up with his classmates. He loves music, singing and dancing, but his favorite activity during his fight for life is building with Legos.
Aiden is now in 4th grade. He is a child that I remember my daughter, who is also in 4th grade, coming home and talking about. Aiden this and Aiden that, and how cool this Aiden in her class was. Being in her class it affected my daughter in that she hasn't forgotten about him and she has kept a positive outlook not realizing, I think, how serious it could be. I remember Maddie talking about him and I listened, but I didn't want to really listen because it bothered me. If it could happen to this little boy, it could happen to one of my children and I didn't want to think about that possibility. A horribly selfish way to look at the situation, but I am being honest, it scared me.
But since he has come to basketball camp and I was forced to deal with him as I do with all kiddos, however, he was different, and now I wouldn't have it any other way. How awesome is he and his parents, too,for allowing him to go to basketball camp and to be knocked around just like all other little boys? To live as normal a life as possible a midst their struggles? I have become like many other people in that I want to help him and his family. I have gone from my selfish and looking the other way self, to wanting to help in any way I can even if it is just a laugh, or a hug, or writing in this blog to make others aware of his situation.
Aiden is in the hospital again after having run a fever for about 2 straight weeks which is not good. They don't know what is going on, but they may have a better idea per his Facebook page Prayers for Aiden. You know, I didn't want to face the reality of Aiden because it scared me about my own two children, if it could happen to him, it could happen to them. But instead of looking the other way, scared of that reality that my own children are mortal, we need to stare straight at their mortality and not look away at others that are sick, even children. We must look at them, hold them, high five them, laugh with them, and love them because they might not be our child, but they are someone's child and those little things to us are huge things to them.
Keep fighting Aiden!!!
Click below to see and hear this cool, cool kid.