To preface, I'm working on an occasional series that chronicles the journey of Joshua Hughston, a 23-month-old Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia patient from Nursery. His prognosis is great. He has more than a 95 percent chance of beating the cancer. The reality is, not every child is Joshua. For some, their journey ends at the children's hospital. This series will span the next three years of Joshua's life as well as the medical advancements made in the past 30 years for childhood leukemia. The series will also dissect what childhood leukemia looks like in the Crossroads to paint a better picture of this monstrosity of a disease.
The double doors shut, separating me from the frigid hand of early Tuesday morning.
Still, I remained somewhat cold.
The chill was perhaps more emotional than it was physical.
After all, I had never seen anyone undergo chemotherapy. I had heard the stories and I had seen the movies, but still, I could not let that paint my vision of what 23-month-old Joshua Hughston was undergoing once a week.
I waited in the lobby with Marie DeJesus, one of our ace photographers, trying to warm myself up. I couldn't.
I'm by no means a veteran reporter, but I'd do anything and everything to continue following and growing my passion in this field and beat. I've been at the Victoria Advocate for a year and a half and this was one of the first times I could honestly say I wasn't sure how I was going to react.
9:15 a.m. rolled around, and Joshua's parents had finally made it to Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi.
I plopped down next to the family and carried on a conversation. I had some specific questions that would be asked and answered, but I wanted to be more observant - a fly on the wall.
Joshua was taken to an examination room at the hospital's newly opened Cancer and Blood Disorder Center.
He was fussy this particular morning. Nurses failed at several attempts to get an accurate blood pressure reading as he threw several tantrums.
As his father blew bubbles to get Joshua to calm down, I could hear the shrill screams of a boy toward the back of the center. Earlier in the lobby, I had heard another boy saying, "I want to go home, Daddy."
Why was that boy screaming? Was it the chemotherapy? Maybe he was just not having a great morning, like Joshua. I almost didn't want to find out.
Once Joshua's vitals checked out, they walked him toward the waiting area.
That was when it hit me.
Several children played with toys while another cried in pain on his father's lap.
Some looked more sick than others. Joshua looked fairly healthy compared to some of the other kids.
Knowing that each of these kids was fighting to overcome something beyond my own comprehension was heartbreaking.
As Joshua takes his journey, I take my own.
On my journey I wonder, "Why?"
Why is it that I'm a healthy 24-year-old chasing my dreams and passions and they're helpless, innocent children struggling to survive?
It really is a question we should all ask ourselves. The answer you find will give you a stronger will to do good in your life, I promise.
I began to feel at ease when the Hughston's were welcomed like family by the other parents.
Cory, Joshua's father, walked up to another father and asked how everything was going and then squatted down to see how the man's little girl was holding up.
She was just fine. All smiles, with tubing and surgical tape hanging from her nose and mouth. She invited Joshua to play with her.
It was then, that the chill I had been trying so hard to get rid of warmed up.
This waiting room wasn't like an emergency room waiting room. People weren't seated far away from each other, guarding their privacy. Instead, the families sat next to each other, asking questions, getting updates and just talking about life outside of cancer.
Without going into too much detail about the four-hour experience, I eventually watched Joshua receive his chemotherapy.
I would have to say my perception of the chemotherapy and the environment was smashed.
I had always imagined an innocent child in a sterile white room laying in a weakened state as he or she underwent the procedure.
That perception was smashed, and I'm glad.
Truth is, there is more than just advanced medical treatment going on behind the walls of those cancer centers. The support and nourishment is beyond anything I had ever seen before.
So this blog is to Joshua and all the other children beating ALL: I hope my chronology of just one family's journey and the inside look at the medical advancements is enough to show how strong each and everyone of you truly are.
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