Boy & Girl of the Year
2017 Boy of the Year
Cooper, 14 years old, ALL survivor
Cooper is a 5-time cancer survivor. He was first diagnosed when he was 3 years old with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. He received 3 1/2 years of chemotherapy and radiation, ending in February 2010. In December 2010, he got a sore throat and enlarged lymph nodes in his neck that wouldn't go away. He was diagnosed with a combination of different types of leukemia, which his doctor called Myeloproliferative disease. He had to live in the hospital for about 6 months for intense chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. In the Spring of 2013, Cooper was bruising and had UTI symptoms and was diagnosed with AML/ALL. He had to stay in the hospital again for intense chemotherapy and another bone marrow transplant. In the Fall of 2014, he broke his tailbone playing soccer. He developed a large lump on his low back shortly after and was diagnosed with a solid AML sacral tumor, the size of a grapefruit. He had radiation and started using essential oils because his doctor said he couldn't have any more chemotherapy. In the Spring of 2015, Cooper got another tumor on his face. These tumors are called chloromas. He had radiation again and he continues to use essential oils for better health.
Favorite TV show: Supernatural
Favorite video game: Minecraft
Favorite food: BACON!
Favorite place to visit: Legoland
Favorite subject: Science
2017 Girl of the Year
Karstyn, 6 years old, ALL survivor
It's Monday, October 19, 2015. Our 3-year old daughter Karstyn came home from a long, busy day at school. After the usual night routine, Karstyn went to bed around 9:00 PM only to wake 2 hours later. She was sitting on the steps near the family room complaining that her stomach hurt. After checking her temperature in at 101, we got her back to bed thinking this was a virus or the flu.
The rest of the week was riddled with cyclic temperature fluctuations between normal and 99. Although Karstyn was not feeling well, on Friday, we still decided to go on our annual apple and pumpkin picking expedition with our family. We thought the fresh air would help. While the rest of the family gathered fresh apples and the biggest pumpkins they could find, Karstyn locked herself in the stroller justifying her persistence with a pain-ridden knee. She seemed very weak and lethargic, moaning as she walked, sometimes needed someone to carry her.
Sunday was a better day for Karstyn. Her temperature was back to normal and her pain subsided as the day went on.
Over the next week, Karstyn continue to fight temperature oscillations, stomach pain, and knee pain. Our growing concern lead to an appointment with the Pediatrician for the next Monday. Meanwhile, this weekend was trick-or-treat. In the several weeks leading up to this day, Karstyn was excited, eagerly awaiting the day when she could parade around the neighborhood as Ariel from the Little Mermaid. The excitement was only compounded by finally being able to see her brother dressed in the Minion costume she had picked out for him.
10 Days later and nearly through the course of antibiotics, the signs and symptoms persist. On Saturday, November 21, my wife took Karstyn back to the doctor. This time, he sends her for blood work. My wife returned home from the lab with instructions that they will call if they find anything serious. I leave the house to take my father to the game.
My dad and I just finished a cheeseburger and were enjoying the company of our co-tailgaters when my wife called. She said the lab called and we needed to take Karstyn to Children's Hospital because her platelets and hemoglobin where low. I had no idea what that meant but my father and I left the game to meet my wife, Karstyn, and my son at Children's.
After a few hours of waiting, two doctors enter the room. They introduce themselves as oncologist. Surely they are here to assure us Karstyn is in the clear and we need to run more tests. This could not be further from reality.
The doctors tell us that Karstyn has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) (likely B cell) and they will be admitting her to the hospital right away. Still in disbelief, and in much the same way the players and coaches felt at this same moment, my wife and I do not know how to process this devastating reality.
The next 10 days were spent in the hospital while Karstyn received numerous doses of chemotherapy in an attempt to force the cancer into remission. As the days passed, each blood test result showed improvements in her counts. Her body was responding to the treatments just as the doctors had predicted.
Karstyn continued fighting at home. She received a battery of chemotherapy medicines and steroids. Of all the medicine Karstyn ingested, the steroids provided the most side effects. She gained weight to the point that walking down the hall drew the breath out of her. Her belly was so bloated she had difficulties getting out of bed or off the couch. She was constantly hungry and her attitude was beyond any control.
Three days prior to Christmas, the hospital called to give us the news that Karstyn was officially in remission. This was also the same day that she finished her course of steroids and no chemo for a few weeks.
Since then, Karstyn has been through phase after phase of chemo treatments. Visits to the clinic ranged from weekly to every 10 days. But now, she's in the maintenance phase that she'll continue until January 2018. Her hair has started to come back and she's back at school with her friends.
Favorite TV show: My Little Ponies Equestria Girls
My role model: Ariel
Favorite food: Lasagna
Best place I've ever been: Disney World
Favorite subject: Art
Boy of the Year
Girl of the Year