Val Marshall's cancer journey began in May 2009, when her son Addison was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. A visit to the family doctor for what they thought was a simple high school football injury turned out to be much more.
Inspired by her son's strength and hope, Val strives to be a voice that connects other parents on this journey. Her series shares insight into her life as a mom of a typical teenager who just happens to be fighting leukemia.
Addie finished proton radiation at the beginning of July and commenced with "chemo only" visits.
Addie continued working as a lifeguard and training for football season throughout the summer. I guess I missed the small print on proton radiation to the brain saying that inflammation in the brain can be a "normal" side effect.
The morning football camp was to begin, Addie hovered over me and said the heart stopping words no cancer family wants to hear, "I have fever. Should I pack up food for the hospital?" Fever, in the cancer world, is the equivalent of "don't pass go." Talk about waking up on the wrong side of the bed!
Aware that I needed to keep my game face on, I muttered, "I'm sure your body is just tired after lifeguarding and working out many hours a day." Inside, I was panicked that all his symptoms were screaming, "relapse."
So, after 10 days and a few false alarms, an emergency room visit, and a spinal tap for confirmation, I can yell, "clear!"
Apparently symptoms of dehydration are similar to those of a cancer relapse. Who knew?
Addie celebrated by jumping back into the kick-off scrimmage, which he enjoyed as he gloated with pride at his bruises that I couldn't say anything about, since his platelets were "killer."
Recently, Addie was named a Top 50 Semifinalist of the High School Football Rudy Awards. The program honors players who demonstrate character, courage, contribution and commitment, the exemplary values of football legend Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, inspirational figure of the classic football film, Rudy. A "Fan Favorite" will be determined 100% by fan voting.
Last summer, MD Anderson published a 2-minute video of Addie's experience with proton therapy. We're so fortunate to have a proton site here in Houston.
I still can't watch the radiation clip without my heart skipping a beat.
The center wanted to document this experience from a teenager's perspective.