Cancer patient tips hats to othersFor the last eight months, 3-year-old Hudson Francis has been making weekly 300-mile round trips from Surrey to Fargo for leukemia treatments. He’s lost his hair, but not his sense of humor. If you ask him his favorite thing to do, he’ll smile and say, “Go bye-bye.”
By: By Dave Kolpack, The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — For the last eight months, 3-year-old Hudson Francis has been making weekly 300-mile round trips from Surrey to Fargo for leukemia treatments. He’s lost his hair, but not his sense of humor.
If you ask him his favorite thing to do, he’ll smile and say, “Go bye-bye.”
With the cancer in remission and a good prognosis from doctors, Hudson will be cutting back on his visits to the MeritCare Children’s Hospital. But he’s leaving doctors, nurses, patients and others with early Christmas presents.
Hats for everybody.
“We’re not the only family going through this,” said Hudson’s mother, Anne Francis. “He just wanted to do something to give back to the kids who are going through being in the hospital.”
Hudson and his 11-year-old sister, Hannah, organized a hat drive and promoted it on a Web site for family and friends going through critical illnesses. The only requirement was that the hats be new, with tags on them.
The family received more than 500 hats of all types, including one that came from New Zealand. One donation had two hats from rival NFL teams, one with a Minnesota Vikings logo and one with a Green Bay Packers logo.
“That shows you the effect this had on people,” Anne said. “It was overwhelming to go to the mailbox every day and have something new come from all those different places.”
Anne, who had been running a day care center in Surrey, said Hudson started feeling sick shortly after he turned 3 years old in March. At first, she thought he caught something from one of the day care youngsters. When she took him to a Minot clinic after he came down with an ear infection, doctors immediately ordered blood tests.
“They knew just by looking at him something was wrong,” Anne said.
Hudson was transferred by ambulance to MeritCare. Drs. Sandeep Batra and Nathan Kobrinsky, two pediatric oncologists, diagnosed their patient with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common type of leukemia in children.
“Luckily, it’s also the leukemia that is the most curable,” Batra said. “The kind of leukemia he has, almost 90 percent of the kids get cured. It’s a pretty good overall outcome.”
The first few months were the most difficult, Batra said, with a lot of prodding and poking and getting used to chemotherapy. The early stage of treatment included significant doses of steroids, known to affect patients’ moods.
“His first few months were very challenging for him,” Batra said. “But he turned around marvelously and got back to smiling and laughing. He’s just himself now.”
There were times when the family would drive 30 hours a week. They typically left on Monday night for Tuesday chemo treatments. In all, they’ve driven more than 21,000 miles since April.
“I’ve changed oil quite a few times,” said Joshua Francis, Hudson’s father.
Anne Francis was forced to close her day care because of the treatment schedule and the need to limit Hudson’s exposure to others because of his suppressed immune system. But the experience has convinced her to become a nurse, or maybe even a doctor.
“The doctors and nurses are amazing,” she said. “They give you so much hope. They’re saving his life.”
Hudson said he has picked out specific hats for his doctors. Batra, who said he’s losing his hair, is ready for one.
“I definitely will need a hat pretty soon,” the doctor said, laughing.