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Thursday
Oct052017

Mother and Son Reflect on Blood Needs During Cancer Battle

“So, funny story…”

Randi Hunter began laughing slightly while starting her story as her son, Kelton, sat next to her. She glanced over at him, ready for him to insert his take on the tale…and he would. The mother-son duo conduct back-and-forth banter typically saved for sitcoms and comedy acts, but theirs has no script; instead, it’s a testament of the loving relationship they share.

“[After I learned Kelton might have leukemia], I told him we had to drive down to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. He burst into tears, and I asked, ‘Honey, what’s wrong?’ He said, ‘You took my Kindle away and you probably won’t let me have it for the trip!’” said Randi.

The 12-year-old was quick to counter, “I did not!”

“Yes you did. Don’t you remember?” Randi smiled at him reassuringly, “But I was like, dude, you can have anything you want right now.”

It was August 1st, 2014, when the Charlevoix-based family received the news. Kelton had some health issues on and off for a couple of months, but never anything really serious. The diagnosis wasn’t confirmed until they made the 3-hour trip down to Grand Rapids: T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-cell ALL, for short). Randi said he received a blood transfusion that first day. Kelton begged to differ.

“I got blood when we were there for an extended period…” he started.

“It was the very first day,” said Randi.

“No!”

“Yes, I’m your mother, I remember these things.”

“Well, I remember it when I was in there for a long time. It’s something you don’t forget,” he said.

Randi’s voice softened a bit. “Did you feel better afterward?”

“Yeah,” he said simply, looking down.

“I remember the first time he got blood,” she explained, “He was sitting there, and I felt helpless. I asked a nurse if I could donate blood while I was there, and they said no. That’s when I started researching and found out about Michigan Blood.”

After that, the Hunter family worked with their friends to set up a blood drive in Kelton’s honor. By that time, he’d begun treatment and lost all of his hair…but that wasn’t the worst part for him.

“After the first month, I wasn’t able to go outside at all. I was practically in the dark for a month,” he said.

“I took you in the car for a ride once,” replied Randi, “You puked in the front seat.”

“Once!”

“You didn’t feel good!”

“I never felt good during that time,” Kelton argued.

The 12-year-old’s final cancer treatment is in November 2017. When asked if they’d continue to hold blood drives afterward, the mother-son duo looked at one another.

“Probably.”

“Most likely.”

“That’s our plan.”

“Yeah.”

“A lot of people need blood. There’s a use for it! And now we know a lot of kids with cancer,” said Randi, “It might not be Kelton who needs it today, but it could be one of our friends.” She added, “One poke is a small price for a kid who has to be poked hundreds of times.”

“So deal with it,” Kelton said bluntly, “Without it, I wouldn’t be here.”

“Without it, he wouldn’t be here,” Randi agreed.