The Herald Bulletin

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Local News

October 17, 2010

‘End of chemo’ turns into a backyard celebration

7-year-old boy looking forward to other milestones

ANDERSON, Ind. — Gold and white balloons lined the walkway to Elias Waymire’s grandmother’s home. Cars were parked up and down the road; the sound of laughter as well as the smell of barbecued ribs wafted from the backyard.

It wasn’t Elias’ birthday, but the family was celebrating nonetheless. The sprite 7-year-old with floppy brunette hair just completed more than three years of chemotherapy, enough of a reason for celebration, his mother, Heather Waymire, said.

“We are celebrating all we have been through and where we are today,” Waymire said. “This is also our way to say thank you to all of those who have supported us and done so much for us through this journey. This is our ‘End of Chemo Party. Three years is a long time to go through all of this and three years is a long time for people to hang in there with you.”

Elias was playing in the sprinklers on July 9, 2007, when the family got a call from their doctor saying the boy needed to be admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit immediately. He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia — cancer of the white blood cells.

Over the next three years he received chemotherapy in a variety of forms — intravenously through a port that had been surgically placed in Elias’ body, through his spine, via pills and shots. He has been in remission since August 2007 but had to do three years of chemo to ensure the cancer was gone. His last dose of the toxic drug was Sept. 12.

“He’s feeling better and better every day,” Waymire said, her smile widening as Elias shyly walked into the room.

He smiled and leaned against his mom saying he didn’t really want to talk about the cancer and chemo. He was happy though about the party and excitedly ran from the room when a friend talked about getting something to eat.

“It is so surprising to see his appetite now,” Waymire said, laughing. “During the treatment he had no appetite. Now all of a sudden he’s eating us out of house and home.”

Elias’ dad, Everett Waymire, said the family had been looking forward to the party for so long — the day they could say, “No more chemo,” that now he’s unsure of what is next.

“Now that the day is here, it’s like, ‘What now? What will the future bring?’” Everett Waymire said. “Now we just have to sit and hope that everything goes all right. But there are no guarantees. It is a lot scarier than I ever thought it would be. But we are hopeful for the future. Things have gone so well so far.”

When Elias was first diagnosed, the Waymires weren’t even sure if they would get to have this celebration. Initially Everett Waymire said he assumed a diagnosis of leukemia meant death for his youngest son.

“Now I think about the other parties down the road like his graduation,” he said. “We can’t say enough about the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital. There is so much that they can do. You don’t hear too much about childhood cancer.”

That’s why Heather Waymire said she and her family are now trying to raise awareness in hopes for more research for childhood cancer. Less than 3 percent of money raised now goes toward research for childhood cancer, she said.

Mindy Morton said she was overjoyed to be a part of the celebration with the Waymires on Sunday. She and Heather Waymire have been best friends since seventh grade.

“They’ve been amazing through all this,” Morton said. “And Elias is an amazing, resilient boy. They have handled this situation with amazing grace.”

The Waymires were able not only to focus on ensuring Elias received the best treatment possible and felt loved and protected, they also continued to support their other two sons — Nolan, 16, and Jarod, 12.

“It is almost as if we all breathed a great sigh of relief now that chemo is over,” Morton said. “We still have to hold our breath every once in a while as he continues to get checked, but he’s there. He has come out of it an amazing kid.”

Elias was hospitalized seven times throughout his treatments.

He received 20 spinal taps for testing and treatments.

For the rest of his life he’ll have a much higher risk of getting secondary cancer, his mother said.

But for now, Elias’ name is written on one of those gold balloons tied in front of the house. His name like that of Austin, Seth and Kate are of the survivors. Other names — Nicholas, Henry and Abigail — are written on the white. Those balloons represent the names of children who have died of cancer.

Contact Abbey Doyle, 640-4805, abbey.doyle@heraldbulletin.com.

 

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