It took about 24 hours for the previous day’s events to truly sink into my seven-year-old son’s mind. I think the excitement – the pinch-yourself-is-this-really-happening kind of awe – was too much for him to believe in the moment.
But the next day, when I saw him walking in a circle saying to himself, “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe. I can’t believe it.” I knew it had finally hit him.
My son, Quintin, signed a letter of intent to be a member of Miami’s football team in the 2017 season.
Now this would be exciting for any sports-obsessed seven-year-old, but for Quintin, it was pretty monumental given what he’d been through the prior year.
He was diagnosed with Philadelphia Chromosome-Positive Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (Ph+ ALL) in February 2016. This high-risk form of leukemia is a cancer in the bone marrow and affects the blood-forming cells in his body.
It all started when I noticed bruises on his hips. He played basketball earlier that night, so I figured he fell down. But he said that he didn’t. The next morning the bruises had spread all over his hips and belly. So I scheduled an appointment with his doctor the next day and tried not to think about the worst-case scenario.
An hour after his appointment, we received a call that no parent wants to receive. He had leukemia. We had to take him to the hospital right away.
We were admitted to Cincinnati Children’s Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute that night. He was there for a month to initiate chemo. Then back home for six weeks for outpatient treatment. He then returned to the hospital for nine weeks to continue his high dose chemotherapy protocol. He spent nearly a year in intensive treatment and is now in maintenance therapy. That’s the shortened version of the grueling year we endured.
As hard as it was, there was a lot of good that came from the last year, too. We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and support we received from our family, friends and our hometown of Oxford, Ohio. Our two families helped care for our two younger sons, which was such a blessing. We quickly found comfort from the entire staff that helped us at Cincinnati Children’s and feel fortunate to have such an extraordinary hospital close to us. Friends, and people we have never even met, were quick to offer help to our family in any way possible. Having a child with cancer offers a humbling crash course in the goodness and compassion of humanity, and we will forever be grateful.
Miami University has always been a part of our lives. My husband, Jake, and I met in high school, and attended Miami together. He was a punter for the RedHawks football team from 2004-08. The Miami football program is a brotherhood that sticks around long after graduation, which was further proven during Quintin’s treatment. When they first heard about Quintin’s diagnosis, they sent him gift cards, a jersey, and a signed poster from all of the players. Miami Football alumni held a fundraiser for our family. Once he was home, he was invited to their practices and to be around the team as much as he was able.
The highlight for Quintin – the crescendo if you will – was their invitation for him to join their team. He took part in their national signing day this past February 2017. It was a dream come true. Not only did he get to have an “official” signing, he got his very own locker. And an open invitation to attend practices and games. Now that it has sunk in, he is over-the-moon excited.
It was an amazing gesture and we are forever grateful. For the last year, our entire world has revolved around cancer. It’s special moments like this that make us forget, for just a few moments, that he has it.
Thank you, Miami RedHawks. Player #4 and his family will forever be your fans.