Dawson is a comedian in training. He’s the middle child and loves to make his family laugh. He tells knock-knock jokes and likes Jim Carrey. He’s in first grade and is very outgoing and bright. Dawson likes playing video games and riding his bike. And he likes to try out jokes.
But in April 2011, everything changed for Dawson and his family.
Dawson was an active child who liked to hike with his parents and siblings. But one day, he said he was too tired to join the others. Within days, he developed a fever he couldn’t shake. Soon his abdomen and lymph nodes swelled. Blood work ordered by the doctor revealed an abnormality. Hours later, Dawson’s family learned he suffered from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer. “My life crashed down upon me,” said Dawson’s mother.
Dawson immediately went to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Dawson’s doctor made a special trip to the hospital on his day off to explain Dawson’s treatment plan to his family.
“The moment I met his doctor, I felt confident that Dawson was going to beat this,” Dawson’s mom said. Dawson began a St. Jude treatment protocol of phased chemotherapy that would last more than two years.
After he began his treatment at St. Jude, Dawson’s cancer was soon in remission. “I decided we would try to make our time at St. Jude like an adventure,” Dawson’s mom said. “We would be happy and find the happiness every day. It feels strange to tell you that we’ve had a wonderful time at St. Jude, but that’s the truth. Dawson is happy here.”
Dawson has a year left of treatment. He’s able to receive much of it at the St. Jude affiliate near his family’s home.
“Why didn’t the chicken jump off the diving board?” he asks. A moment later, in a fit of laughter, he supplies the answer: “Because he’s too chicken!”
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