OKLAHOMA CITY – Amber Branscum is holding up a frayed, yellow Batman cape, an item that may be her youngest son’s most meaningful childhood memento.
“This is the cape Noah wore for the first six months after he was diagnosed. He wore it everywhere and if there was a hole, we patched it,” Branscum said. “I actually think this cape was his security blanket in the beginning.”
Her now 5-year-old son, Noah, was just a toddler when he was diagnosed with leukemia following some troubling symptoms.
“He was complaining that his legs just really, really hurt. Then one night he woke up and sneezed hard and just started screaming that his back hurt. That was when I knew something was wrong,” she remembered.
Dr. Chinni Pokola, from Jimmy Everest Cancer Center, is Noah’s doctor.
“When young kids who are running around suddenly stop walking and just have a lot of leg pain, that raises a lot of red flags,” he explains.
Noah quickly started chemotherapy treatment, and he responded well. His whole family, including two older siblings, have adjusted to life outside of the mainstream to avoid germs and viruses.
If they go out to a restaurant or movie, they try to go during off-peak hours.
“With me being a pharmacist, I’m way overprotective, so we rarely go anywhere,” Branscum said.
One place the Branscums do go regularly is the clinic at Jimmy Everest. The treatment schedule lasts for over two and a half years, so the nurses and staff have become like family members.
They often talk to him about his treatments in superhero terms.
“When we’re doing sedations and things like that, we’ll kind of talk about comparing the equipment to things on Batman’s utility belt,” says Dr, Pokola.
“His long term prognosis is very good. Kids like him have cure rates that are approaching 95 percent range,” he adds.
Noah’s parents tear up when they describe the care they’ve received at Jimmy Everest, and the bravery their young son has shown through the entire ordeal so far.
“Noah is just beyond his years smart. He knows everything; he can tell you the name of every medicine he’s taken, what it’s for, just amazes me.”
If you’d like to help children like Noah fight cancer, consider donating to JECFriends.org
‘Kids with Courage’ is sponsored by the Jimmy Everest Center.