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Justin Weekes
John Carlson, 14, of Middletown and his grandfather John Young, of Meriden, sit in arm chairs Wednesday, May 28, 2014. The chairs were donated by the Make a Wish Foundation. | Justin Weekes / For the Record-Journal

A day to chase the long nights

This past weekend I went to an amazing game at Fenway Park. I was asked to write about my experience, and I think to properly do this I need to start from the beginning.

On December 13, 2012, I was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of pediatric cancer.

I was immediately given emergency chemotherapy and radiation therapy. My tumor was the size of an orange and in the right side of my face, so naturally the radiation was concentrated to that side of my face.

By February, I could not talk, eat or drink.

Now, most people who have not directly gone through cancer treatment — either on their own or with a loved one — don’t know the side effects of radiation therapy. Not only does it inflict the expected nausea that everyone knows about … but there is also the cramping, the dead skin and, worst of all, the damage to the nerves and muscles.

I was fed through a tube until August of that year.

My grandfather wrote a letter to the Red Sox early in 2013 asking them to let us sit in the Green Monster seats for a game. This request was granted and plans were made for me to go to a game last September. Due to the side effects of my treatment, however, I could not attend as originally planned.

In February of this year, my PET scans came back clear. The relief was unimaginable.

But along with this amazing relief was disappointment. Even though I was cancer free, I still had to finish my chemotherapy protocol.

Think of it like an antibiotic. Even when the illness or infection goes away, you still must finish taking the dose for the amount of days your doctor proscribed.

In March of this year I was given an amazing room in my house from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This truly lifted my spirits in a way I had never imagined.

Last Sunday’s Red Sox game had the exact same effect: Pure joy.

The day started out at 9 in the morning with a limousine graciously donated from Hunter’s Limousine in Meriden picking me and my family up at my house. We were given all of our favorite foods and drinks to keep us happy on the ride to Boston. Our driver was a very nice man, who was also a Red Sox fan.

When we arrived at Fenway Park, I was given a tour of the amazing stadium by one of the nicest men I have ever met, Julio Jeune, who coordinated my day from the Red Sox. He brought us all around, from the room with all the players currently on the roster to the room honoring past Red Sox greats.

We then got to see what the box seats looked like. They were big enough to live in, with a chef and waiter to cater to your every need.

Then we went out to the field to watch the Devil Rays do batting practice. From there, I was directed to the front row Green Monster seats and the game began. I was able to see my idol Jon Lester pitch an amazing game and, before I knew it, it was the 8th inning and my family and I were very tired from cheering.

We were brought right back to the limousine and we were able to listen to the rest of the game on the radio.

The fact that I was able to see my idol and fellow cancer survivor pitch was amazing.

I would like to make a request to all the people reading this article. Take 10 minutes of your time and just a bit of money and donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Cure-Search (childhood cancer research funding) or the Never Quit Foundation (Jon Lester’s childhood cancer foundation).

It will go toward making children like me live better, longer and happier lives.

That day marked another victory for my favorite team. It also marked a victory for me and all childhood cancer victims. We will not let this define us … we will rise higher.

I would like to end in saying: cancer is only a chapter in the book of life.



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