Monday last we brought our son Joshua home from college. He was suffering flu-like symptoms and had a persistent nosebleed. We took him to our family doctor. He sent us to the local hospital after a blood test showing extremely high white cell and low platelet counts.
After a day full of tests Joshua was diagnosed on Tuesday evening with Acute T-cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He began chemotherapy on Wednesday and early Thursday morning his heart stopped, overwhelmed by the toxins created as the leukemia cells were destroyed by chemo. But the amazing doctors, nurses, and technicians in the intensive care unit brought him back.
It was the dramatic beginning of a very long week. Surprisingly, when the oncologist told us our son had leukemia I wasn't shocked. Somehow, in my heart I already knew - even before the blood test. The nose bleed was the give-away. The extent of his disease did surprise me. The cancer has invaded every part of his body: from brain, to spleen, to liver, to lymph nodes, to a mass in his chest.
I knew the diagnosis was a life changer. I knew nothing would ever be the same and our lives would be consumed in helping our son fight the disease. But when Joshua's heart stopped that morning my world crashed as well.
My son is twenty-one years old with three-and-a-half years of a 4.0 GPA toward a degree in philosophy. He is the most brilliant man I've ever met, and that isn't a father talking. His peers and professors agree. His first question when told the course of chemo was, "How will I go to class?" His oncologist informed him he would not be returning to school.
Joshua was devastated as much, I think, that he would not be graduating this semester as he was by the prospect of facing the impending battle with leukemia. My life is now focused like a laser on my son. Writing, publishing, and promoting my books seems trivial and honestly irrelevant.
My son, like many his age, has amassed a huge debt in college loans. Though helped by our insurance, Joshua faces the staggering cost of prolonged cancer treatment. He asked me in ICU how much all of this would cost. I told him it wouldn't cost a penny - just get well. But he knows better. We are a working class family. Joshua would have been the first person in my family to graduate college.
I am putting all the proceeds from sell of my books into a fund to pay for Joshua's treatment. I am also setting up a donation link on all of my websites that will go to that fund. Any donations beyond the cost of his treatment will go toward paying his student loans. He asked that anything beyond that go to leukemia research.
My son is facing his illness as he faces life - with strength, poise, and determination - though as his father I know he's scared. Twenty-one is a difficult age to face death - old enough to fully understand the possibility, but in many ways too young. I am proud and amazed by the man he has become.
If you would like to offer encouragement to Joshua you can post on his Facebook Wall. He is keeping up with his friends on his smart-phone and had me post updates while he was in ICU. He is currently continuing chemotherapy. If you can donate to help cover his treatment you can do so through PayPal - you don't need a PayPal account to donate. And as I said, all royalties from books purchased will also go into that account.
I obviously will not be spending much time on social media for awhile, but I truly appreciate all of my friends, fellow writers, and readers. Please leave me messages and I will respond when I can. Above all, we need your prayers.
We've witnessed a series of miracles already, from his acceptance to participate in a special clinical trial aimed at his particular cancer to a trauma doctor who was standing by when Joshua's heart stopped. That doctor immediately began CPR and continued until they lowered his potassium levels and got his heart beating again.
Joshua is determined to win this battle and return to school as soon as possible. As a family we are determined to stand with him in every way we can, and trust that God is there too - every step of the way.
Please stand with us.