A special wish for little Chase
His dutifully fulfilled his role as ring-bearer before throwing himself into the festive reception with a joy that comes naturally for toddlers but that we seem to lose as adults.
A few weeks later, he bumped his head on the playground back home in Missouri. The black eye looked nastier than it should, so his mother had his pediatrician take a closer look.
It didn't look good to the pediatrician, either, who sent Chase for blood tests. Within 24 hours, Chase was on his way to St Jude's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
The diagnosis: Neuroblastoma. It's a type of cancer found mainly in infants and small children. Rarely does it strike those older than 10. It hits the nerve system, and sometimes the tumors disappear as mysteriously as they appear. That's not what happened with Chase.
The little boy remained at St. Jude's in Memphis, almost 300 miles away from the home his young parents, Candice and Nick, had bought just before he was diagnosed. His 5-year-old sister, Kaylee, keeps watch over him as well, demanding that any doctor entering the room tell her what's going on.
Candice dropped out of nursing school to nurse her baby. Nick, a Navy veteran, worked in Missouri during the week and rushed back to Memphis on weekends to be with his family.
Late last week, there was hope for a new treatment. Doctors gave Chase massive dose of chemotherapy, a load high enough to kill off all his white cells. The next step would be a transplant of his own stem calls in hopes they would take over. It was to be a painful procedure - it would make Chase very sick and force him into isolation afterward.
Instead, he began having seizures. A series of tests discovered tumors on his spinal cord and the lining of his brain. Chase has been sleeping under heavy medication since due to the intolerable pain he is in.
So now the Schlenkers are focused on making Chase's remaining time comfortable and on fulfilling his dream - a trip to Disney and to visit his grandparents in California's Central Valley.
Chase is too young for the Make A Wish Foundation, so his dream needs our help.
Candice has set up a Pay Pal account to accept donations to help pay for the trip.
Those who don't feel comfortable donating online can mail checks made out to Nick Schlenker to 3364 Silverwood Dr. Escalon, CA 95320 - it's Candice's sister's, Melissa's address. She's played an instrumental role in keeping family and friends updated online about Chase's condition when Candice isn't up to doing so.
Nick and Candice just want Chase "to be a kid again, no hospitals, no IV's, no treatment," Melissa wrote recently.
I don't blame them at all. I think that's what any parent would want for their child in that same situation.
Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.