Posted: April 19, 2017
No parents ever want to hear the words “your child has cancer,” but that’s what happened to Blair and Lee Gibson on June 16, 2015. It was their 8th wedding anniversary.
At just two months shy of his 4th birthday, their son Caleb was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Then six weeks later they found out his true diagnosis: a rare children’s cancer called histiocytic sarcoma. In fact, it was so rare that Caleb was only the eighth documented case of it in the U.S.
“I remember dropping to my knees and not being able to catch my breath and thinking to myself, not us, not our little boy,” said Blair.
The following day on June 17th, they went to the UVA Battle Building to begin a series of tests, medicines and procedures. The day ended with Caleb receiving a bone marrow biopsy, a lumbar puncture, his first dose of chemo, and an MRI.
That was just the beginning. He wasn’t discharged until July 31st.
When he first arrived at the hospital, Caleb reacted like any 3-year-old: he was scared, angry and confused. He was overwhelmed with the number of doctors and nurses examining him.
It was heartbreaking for Blair and Lee to see their son going in and out of the hospital for a year because his immune system was non-existent. It was even more difficult to see how it affected their life at home, especially since Caleb’s older brother, Colin, didn’t quite understand the severity of the situation.
“We were so used to us all being together that trying to find normal in a not normal situation was incredibly difficult.”
But thanks to the support of family and friends, and newfound friends whose children were also going through the same thing, Blair and Lee could let go of some of their stress and focus their energy where it was needed most.
They were even introduced to CureSearch just shortly after Caleb was diagnosed, and they all participated in their first Walk in October 2015.
“It was exciting for us to raise money for the over 40,000 children undergoing cancer treatment each year, and to meet and work together with other families that had been affected from childhood cancer.”
It also helped that through it all, Caleb’s superhero strength and smile made a serious situation much more bearable.
Today, Caleb is 5 years old and is in the maintenance phase of treatment and takes chemo daily. He goes into the clinic monthly for IV chemo, which began in June 2016. This coming June, they will be reassessing Caleb’s progress to see whether they continue with chemo or end it.
Spiderman, Caleb’s favorite superhero, once said, “You’re much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.”
That’s what we think about Caleb. His parents think the same thing.
It’s Caleb’s strength and spirit that encourage him to love learning in kindergarten class, to draw, color and play board games, to chase his dogs, and to participate in sports like football and basketball.
It’s also what inspires him to do his favorite activity with his older brother: play superheroes!
“Caleb’s sincere love for life and his intriguing contagious spirit make him a superhero. He is a constant reminder to us all that life is short and we shouldn’t take our time here on Earth for granted. Caleb’s strong willpower and his kind and caring personality have shown many people how important it is to take in all of life’s precious moments and to hold onto them tightly.”
We think the entire Gibson family is full of superheroes.
Help us fight the villain cancer in our countdown to National Superhero Day by donating toward lifesaving research. Help us give superheroes like Caleb a chance to live longer, better and healthier lives.
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