Adrian Williams is only 9 years old, but he’s already found himself in a fight against cancer.
Specifically, he has stage three Burkett’s Lymphoma, which he was diagnosed with July 1 of this year.
According to his mother, Marti Wiliams, the trouble started with doctors visits and trips to the emergency room. During his last ER trip, doctors discovered an obstruction in Adrian’s bowel. At this time, she said, they transferred her son from Geary Community Hospital to Children’s Mercy of Kansas City.
“They knew that there was probably something else that was causing that obstruction, because kids this age do not get those,” Marti said.
After another examination, doctors at CMH found a mass attached to her son’s lymph nodes.
“They knew as soon as they pulled out the mass that it was cancer,” Marti said.
Not good news in any case, but the surgeon knew immediately that doctors could treat it, she said.
Marti was shocked, nonetheless, at the diagnosis.
“This is my baby,” she said. “Words that you don’t ever expect to hear — you don’t want to hear that word, cancer.”
“It was hard at first,” Adrian said. “But it’s fun there — they make it fun.”
He’s referring to the oncology floor at CMH. According to Adrian, the nurses make an effort to keep the atmosphere cheerful and positive. He has made friends at the hospital.
Adrian, during his stays at the hospital, enjoys having Nerf gun wars with patients and staff. He has befriended an older patient named Noah who has become the older brother Adrian never had. He enjoys taking part in the many activities provided by staff.
“It might be hard at first, but once you start getting through it, you’ll start to feel a little better,” Adrian said. “Especially if it is treatable.”
“No matter what the negative is, there’s always a positive somewhere,” Marti said. “Sometimes, you have to dig really deep down to find it, but there’s always a positive. Just don’t give up hope.”
The chemotherapy treatments, he said, could be worse. They make him nauseous. Between cycles, sometimes he develops a fever and has to go to the hospital.
“I have a port, so they’ll try to access that,” he said. “But if they can’t get it, they’ll give me an IV.”
If need be, he’s flown by airplane to the hospital in Kansas City, where he stays for roughly five days. This hasn’t happened for the past two weeks, his mother said.
Adrian’s last chemotherapy treatment is scheduled to take place in October.
“His chemo treatments are very intense,” Marti said. “Burkett’s Lymphoma is a fast-growing lymphoma. His mass that he had could have doubled in size in less than 48 hours and because of that, they want to hit the chemo fast and hard. So it’s a very intense round of chemo. This is actually the longest that we’ve been home in between his cycles. He hasn’t spiked a fever yet. So it’s been nice to be home for two weeks — almost three weeks now.”
The diagnosis has changed things for Marti and her three children, who she raises as a single mother after the death of her husband, Justin, in a motorcycle wreck a few years ago.
“We’re not so busy anymore,” she said. “We have an open schedule because we never know how Adrian’s going to feel.”
Summer was put on hold for Adrian who normally plays baseball and takes part in 4-H. He was fortunate to have the chance to show his bucket calf at the fair this year.
It has been hard for Marti, who is used to seeing her son be active. As a mother, she said, it’s rough to not be able to fix the problem and make it better.
“You cannot take life for granted,” she said. “It’s easy to sit back and say, ‘oh, that won’t happen to us,’ and it very well can. We cherish what we have and we’re excited for the good days when Adrian feels good.”
Family and friends keep them afloat, both emotionally and otherwise.
Recently, a spaghetti feed fundraiser took place at the Junction City Church of the Nazarene. Adrian attends school in Chapman and on Friday evening during the football game between Chapman and Abilene, there was a fundraiser. The event is an annual one associated with the schools’ big rivalry game. It’s called Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime? and each year, there’s a new cause to support. This year, it was Adrian.
“The support is amazing,” Marti said. “We’re very grateful for everybody.”