BLANCHARD, Okla. – It’s a mild Fall afternoon, and 12-year old Brock Rinken is throwing a football with his brothers and cousins in Blanchard.
It was an afternoon of play like this last summer at the swimming pool when Brock and his family learned something was terribly wrong with Brock’s health.
“I felt like someone was sitting on my chest,” explained Brock.
“I thought he was dry-drowning because he was swimming all day, so I took him to the emergency room and they did an X-ray and saw something in his chest,” his mom, Sarah Harris remembers.
Doctors clearly saw a cancerous mass on the X-Ray in the middle of his chest.
“He was eventually diagnosed with a type of cancer called Lymphoma, and specifically a T-Cell lymphoblastic lymphoma,” explained Pediatric oncologist Dr. Joel Thompson.
It is a very rare subtype of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that tends to develop in younger patients. Defective blood cells can form a mass when they leave the bone marrow and hog space in the lymph nodes or lymphatic organs.
“That was the hardest part for me, when they told him he had cancer, and that look, your child’s face. It’s hard,” said Harris.
What came next was an ambulance ride to Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer, and a blur of days that immediately included chemotherapy.
“I just don’t like to talk about that,” he said.
Fast forward a few months and while Brock still grimaces during a blood draw, and still struggles with terrible nausea, he’s proving to be incredibly resilient.
“I love the kid! He’s awesome! His tumor has gone into remission so he’s doing great,” said Dr. Thompson.
“We love Dr. Thompson. This place is amazing, and we’ve loved this place,” said Harris.
After a few more weeks of sometimes daily, intensive therapies, Brock will switch to oral chemo pills that he’ll take for about two years.
He’s ready to go home again, to take on his family for a little football, but first, a message to his friends:
“This is a shout out to Jasmine, Hailey, Reagan and Wyatt!”
If you’d like to help kids like Brock fight cancer, click here.
Kids with Courage is sponsored by the Jimmy Everest Center.