WARREN, Pa. – Through it all, Warren and his family’s boy remained #Carsonstrong.
Carson Kaiser has been through some tough times lately.
In December, 10-year-old Carson, a student at Betty Warren Middle School, was diagnosed with leukemia.
He has been in constant treatment since then and is close to a bone marrow transplant which will hopefully cure him of the cancer.
“We’re in this round right now, this is heavy duty chemotherapy,” said Carson’s father, Josh Kent. “She takes it down. They turn it on and he passes it right away.”
Carson is doing well. Kent said. “From a parent’s perspective… It’s scary. A sad thing. It’s really heavy.”
The father and son have spent most of the past few months at UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.
“My other children are scattered in different places, trying to get over everything,” Kent said.
When asked how Carson’s diagnosis and treatment months have changed, Kent said, “It suddenly became cool.”
“He is the sweetest and cutest child,” He said. “It blows me away, this kid.”
There is one time when Carson isn’t adorable, and it’s not right after therapy.
Carson spends most of his time playing Fortnite. Kent said. “You see it in Fortnite, it’s 180 degrees.”
It wasn’t easy staying #Carsonstrong while adjusting to leukemia and life in the hospital.
The news was usually the worst of the options.
“We’re used to it now,” Kent said. “When it comes time to draw straws, we draw the short straw.”
From possible diagnoses, to the type of leukemia, to the effectiveness of chemotherapy – “If it weren’t for bad luck” Kent said Carson had never had any kind of luck.
That luck changed for the better with Carson’s hair style.
After the previous round of chemotherapy, the father and son decided to dye each other’s hair a color of their choice. “I try to share as much of the burden with him as possible.”
“I picked purple for him, he picked pink for me.” Kent said. “His purple, which was supposed to be embarrassing, has faded into this beautiful lavender.”
Kent’s pink quickly turned orange. “I looked silly” He said.
They agreed to shave their heads together afterwards.
“I said, ‘Well, are you ready to shave your head?'” Kent said.
Carson’s hair was not performing as expected under the treatments. “You faded into the most beautiful fade I’ve ever seen,” He said.
“I’ve been walking around gingerbread for the past few weeks,” Kent regretted it.
it’s time. “We’re both going to shave our heads today,” He said. “We’ll have a little haircut party.”
The goal of chemotherapy is to get rid of the cancer.
“The goal was and still is to cure this cancer,” Kent said. “They said that’s what they’re trying to do.”
The rounds of chemotherapy so far have not achieved that.
“The only bad part about it is, regardless of whether we get rid of cancer or not, we’re going to do it,” Kent said of the transplant.
If the cancer is still present, it is more complicated. Kent said. “Looking at the numbers straight on, it’s not the best look. It’s a little disappointing.”
But he is confident of the team.
“The oncology unit is exceptional,” He said. “They made this trip so much easier than it could have been.”
Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Specialist “Dr. Randy (Wendrich) Eats Breathless Sleep Transplants for AML Patients,” Kent said.
He said that people don’t really know what people treating cancer is about until they witness it in person.
“We watch TV, and we see all this stuff about cancer,” He said. The truth is “It’s kind of brainy and superheroic. These people walk in the cold every day. It’s up to them to figure out what’s going on so they can cure the kid.”
Carson began preparations for the transplant.
Strong matches found. “We were lucky,” Kent said. “They had a whole pool of donors for a specific type of marrow.”
In general, preparation for the transplant is expected to take four to six weeks, and Kent is not sure if they will be free to go home for the weekend in that time. “I’m not sure if we’ll go home,” He said.
Home or away, Kent will continue to do two jobs – “I’m just trying to understand what’s going on, so I can make the best decisions I can and make jokes to keep this kid smiling.”
There will be a handy drive-thru pasta dinner to help the family from 3-6 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, at Hessel Valley Lutheran Church in Chandler’s Valley.
This weekend, they’re having spaghetti dinner. Kent said. They do this periodically, to reach out to those in need. I couldn’t be more grateful that they chose us.”
The generosity was not limited to Heysel Valley.
“It’s amazing to me the overwhelming wave of love that washed over me and my family,” He said. “Friends I made, people I didn’t even know knew me.”
His Superior Tire teammates donated vacation time to him so he will still get paid after FMLA time is up.
“To see that the community could unite as it did when I was a child… Never in my life have I been more proud to be a citizen of Warren,” He said. “I get so much energy that I have to put out there.”
“I have been raising these kids on my own for a fairly long time. I am not very good at accepting help,” she said. Kent said. “I just appreciate everyone so much.”
All proceeds from the dinner will go to the family. Those who cannot attend, but wish to donate, may do so by check payable to Hessel Valley Lutheran Church with Carson in the memo line, to 166 Hessel Valley Road, Chandlers Valley, PA, 16312.