The holidays are joyous occasions for everyone every year. Kids go out and get candy from complete strangers. Families gather together and eat turkey. Presents are given and received. Every couple is under Mistletoe. Parents are lifting their small children up and hanging ornaments. Life is supposed to be good, right? Four years ago, Christmas wasn’t a very happy occasion for the Karlik and Thompson families.
It was just like any other December for us. Dad and I had just finished our last shift of selling Boy Scout Christmas Trees. Wrestling season was done and I could eat again. Mom had just finished grading all of her assignments. Debi was being Debi in her room with her Pokemon and Sonic. Chris was hanging out with his crew in town. Everything was going right in our world.
On December 16th, Mom suddenly got a call and started crying. She whispered something to Dad and he sprinted out the door toward Uncle Chet and Aunt Alisa Thompson’s house. I had absolutely no idea what was going on. Mom wouldn’t tell me; she said I didn’t need to know yet. I got frustrated because she tells me everything. Then I paused and realized that she tells me everything and that I should trust her. I went downstairs and try to get my mind off of it and played video games.
It doesn’t work and I constantly lost my matches thinking about what it could be. “Are they getting a divorce?” No, of course not; they love each other too much. “Did dad get a new job somewhere else and we have to move?” No, Mom would’ve told me to start packing.
Time eventually passed and I went up for dinner and Mom told us life-changing news, Lance has Leukemia. I was shocked that my little three year old cousin had cancer. It was devastating. I didn’t think he would make it at first. I rarely heard a good story of a person surviving it. I thought I was about to lose my little cousin to cancer.
Over the first couple of months, it was a rough time for Lance. He couldn’t even be home for Christmas and really bummed us all out. January came and the community started a campaign to help raise funds for the Lance and the rest of the Thompson family called “Lancelot’s Crusade”. They made bracelets and T-shirts with this phrase and got donations. The money helped make care-packages to send to them along with the actual money. We did everything we could to help him.
We had no contact with Lance and the only way we got up to date was Alisa writing journal entries on the site CaringBridge.com. It’s a place where cancer families could write updates of their loved ones to people who supported them and even get donations. Those journal entries were the only things getting us through. Alisa was, and still is, an amazing writer. When mom first told me that Lance had cancer, she showed me the first entry. I cried so hard that day.
I couldn’t focus the next day at school. All I could think about was this little child being very sick. It sounded devastating. Mom and I sat down every lunch period for school and read what Alisa wrote that day. I read about Lance and his first reaction to steroids. He was a miniature Hulk destroying everything and even his parents were scared. I thought poor little guy. The next thought was, poor parents. They must being going through so much more than I am by a long shot.
Being the strong little boy he was, he trudged through the long and enduring battle. Lance got to go to a ton of sporting events as an honored guest. He got to tour so many sports teams’ practice facilities. He even got to go meet frickin Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks! When Sherman asked if he wanted to switch shoes, Lance, being the smart little boy he is, answered,
“Your shoes are too big for me.”
Chet was so starstruck and was so frustrated that Lance would miss this once in a lifetime opportunity. The three of them laughed it out. I still have that picture of them; it’s priceless.
We got frequent updates from Aunt Alisa on Caring Bridge. Some days we were joyous. Some days we laughed over her creative writing ability. Some days we heard minor and major setbacks and some of us cried (It was totally mom every single time. I never cried at all. At least in front of people).
Lance did make it and he is healthy and better than ever. He is now probably my favorite cousin (sorry Brian). He is my mini me. He loves sports and we have intellectual NFL conversations together. He looks more like me than his actual father. Considering I look nothing like my parents most of the time, I jokingly wonder if Lance and I are brothers in some other family. I am so glad he made it. I still wear that orange wrist band everyday with the strong and powerful words, “Lancelot’s Crusade”. I will never forget that strong kid and his story.