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Spring Fever Collides With Chemotherapy

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By Val Marshall

addisonands.jpgVal 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 so much more.

Inspired by her son's strength and hope, Val strives to be a voice to help connect 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.

Addison Marshall Crush Cancer

Addie completed hospital visit number 12 last week. Only two more hospitalizations until radiation to his central nervous systems is complete, but who's counting? This stage of chemo is tantamount to your junior year in high school. You become antsy and feel like the end will never arrive.

I requested a tutor while he was an inpatient, as he has been missing two to three days of school each week with this intensification stage. He becomes rather agitated with the three-day imprisonment at camp MDA, as he feels like he's falling behind in Pre-Cal and Physics.

He has developed a great rapport with Shannica, who is the director of education at MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital. Shannica researched the topic and formulated a plan with Xavier Educational Academy to begin a program for higher learning to address the needs of children attempting to bridge the gap with their home school.

All of Addison's foster teachers tutor him before school when he is available, which has created the love of learning and work ethic to excel. Shannica and Xavier have taken that same baton of hope and are running side by side with Addie, providing one-on-one tutoring until the school year ends.

Addie gathers his books and IV pole at 1:00 every day and shuttles down to the Pedi-dome for "Calculus with Kaitlyn." Jack and I are so grateful for the family-centered care that we are receiving on this long, and at times torturous, path. Without his village of support, we would be reviewing "Math for Dummies" at home!

Addie did get a call from the office, so to speak. One diligent nurse looked at him and said, "Where have you been?" as he is known as a "rambling man." He didn't make eye contact and generically explained that he was just walking around. She looked at him with a smile in her eyes and said, "Addison, you have grass on your IV pole. I'm watching you."

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