According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and destroy body tissue. Destroy means to put an end to the existence of something by damaging or attacking it. Cancer destroys, but very often people destroy cancer. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those stories.
Luke was an eight-year-old boy with dreams sparkling in his eyes. His smile lit up every room he walked into, until he found out the only room that he would walk into for awhile was a hospital room. His dreams crashed right before his parents as soon as they were told that Luke was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma, but Luke didn’t care. Actually, it meant nothing to him. He didn’t understand his family’s tears. He didn’t get why his parents would tell him to be strong and fight through it. None of it made sense. He was told cancer is a bad thing. That it is inside of him, but it didn’t seem like a big deal to him.
Superheroes were one of Luke’s favorite things, and it wasn’t hard for anyone to figure that out. He had superhero everything. He sleeps in Hulk pajamas, and his favorite blanket has a Captain America shield covering it.
“Doctors are superheroes too. They are like Hulk or Iron Man; they don’t need a cape to work miracles. They will save me. I promise,” Luke once whispered to his mom when he caught her crying by his hospital bed late one night.
Luke had the most positive attitude any eight year old could have that was battling cancer. He loved all the attention, but he got sicker and sicker every day. He couldn’t go to school anymore, and his parents had to work to pay the hospital bills, so they couldn’t always be with him. He missed playing with his friends on the playground at recess and fixing things with his older brother and sister after school. They were almost always at some sort of practice. He had visitors almost daily. They brought him all kinds of things, from stuffed animals to candy.
The support effort made by the community helped the family a lot, but no matter how happy he was, the cancer was still killing him from the inside out.
Luke was told he only had a ten percent chance of living. Luke did know what that meant. He wouldn’t get to grow up. By this time, he was getting so much treatment it was hurting him, so they entered him into a program in Seattle, Washington. Once he got excepted, it was a huge deal. Not very many people make it into this program. They told his family he was almost guaranteed to live. There was a 97% chance that he would survive. He got to come home one last time before they headed off to Seattle. Everyone was hopeful this would be it. The little boy everyone looked up to for his fight and optimism was about to be done with suffering. At least that was the goal. Nobody had ever thought that it wouldn’t work. Maybe that’s why it made it so hard to hear bad news when they got back. It about kills you when they say it’s all over. All the tears come back to the family that had been suffering for so long.
His 13-year-old sister once said, “When somebody in your family gets cancer, you all get it. It’s not something you can run away from because you have to fight with him. It’s not easy to see your younger brother in so much pain. Sometimes I wish I could switch spots with him, so I wouldn’t have to see his tears anymore.”
Luke was the three percent that the treatment didn’t work on. At this point, you could say that they had tried everything. Luke couldn’t stand the pain anymore. The little boy with the laughter that filled the room was no longer smiling, and yet he was still the happiest of all his family. He was the one telling his parents that it would be alright. His dad promised him that once he was done with all of his shots that he could give his dad a shot. That’s just what he did. They had never seen him so excited. He thought that being done with shots was a good thing when everyone else knew it meant something else, but surely enough he gave his dad a shot.
Later that week, Luke’s family decided they didn’t want to see him suffer any longer. They made a very tough decision to send him home. They would stop the treatment altogether. They brought him home on a gloomy afternoon. The sun hadn’t shone for days. He started to drive by the school on the way to their house. Luke didn’t want to, but his mom talked him into it. The entire student body and staff of his school came outside and waved to him while he was passing by. Luke didn’t want to wave to anyone until he saw his best friend. Luke rolled down the window and waved to him. Then, he rolled it right back up. For that short time he drove by the sun came out. Luke took one last smile at his best friend.
Sadly, this wasn’t a made up story. It was based on the story of Kellen Morrison, an eight-year-old boy from Logan-Magnolia school. I didn’t know Kellen extremely well, but I did get the privilege to meet him several times. There is no doubt that Kellen will leave a lasting impression on you from the first time you see him smile. You couldn’t help but laugh when he did. He battled cancer for months, but he unfortunately couldn’t finish. Kellen woke up on the morning of May 6, 2015 very sick. He could barely breathe, and his lips were turning blue. Julie, his mom, told Kylie and Kolby to leave the room because she didn’t want his siblings to see him suffer. Julie quickly picked up her phone in an attempt to call Kellen’s hospice nurse, but there was a problem with her phone. As soon as she turned on her phone, music started playing. It was the song, The Best Day of My Life. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but Julie doesn’t have any music on her phone, nor does she know how to play music on her phone. It was really loud, and it wouldn’t shut off. Kelly, Julie’s husband, set his hand on her shoulder.
“Don’t shut it off. Just listen to the words,” Kelly whispered to her.
As soon as the song started playing, Kellen opened his eyes and shut them again. He made his way up to heaven. I believe it was a miracle. The first words of the song are, “I had a dream so big and loud; I jumped so high I touched the clouds.” Kellen will be remembered forever, but not for having cancer. He will be remembered for being a fighter. Kellen was my superhero, and as he once said, “Not every superhero always wears a cape.”