"My name is Tuckin' Treasure."
Like most boys his age, Treasure Downing loves trucks - and the bigger the better. So it was a treat when the owners of West Texas Peterbilt surprised the 6-year-old and his Grandpa Harvie.
"Well they're kind of loud when you first get around them, and from the outside (Treasure) was a little apprehensive about the noise, but once he got inside he got more comfortable and even wanted us to honk the horn a few times," Jim Henson, with West Texas Peterbilt, said.
"He was great. He kind of had a running commentary on everything he was seeing and doing and I think he had a good time," Jim added.
On this bright spring day, Treasure doesn't have a care in the world. But there was a time, not too long ago, when things could not have been darker.
"Treasure has gone through a lot in the last couple of years," Heather Donaghey, an RN, BSN who works in pediatric oncology at Southwest Cancer Center at University Medical Center, said.
"When I first found out you could have knocked me over with a feather. Because, his mother died of a brain tumor," Harvie said.
Treasure was only 4-years-old when his mother lost her battle against cancer. Seven months later cancer struck again, this time taking his grandmother. And eight months after that, at just 5-years-old, Treasure began his own fight to live.
"He got sick in January of (2007). I brought him over to the ER on the 9th of January. He was diagnosed on the 10th. They did a scope and they found it - found out he had lymphoma," Harvie said.
"He had a B-cell lymphoma which is usually a good solid bulk tumor," Heather said.
Doctors at the UMC Children's Hospital acted quickly, removing several of Treasure's lymph nodes and the tumor from his intestine. From there, Treasure bravely underwent chemotherapy and radiation at UMC's Southwest Cancer Center. And even as his small, thin frame swelled because of the medication, this little diamond never stopped shining.
"We went through lots of chemo together - which he did great on, never complained, never had any problems," Heather said.
"He has handled it so well; he's never gotten sick from the radiation treatments that he's had. He lost all his hair, his eyebrows, his eyelashes, but it didn't bother him. A lot of people, some people, it bothers - he had a good time not having any," Harvie said.
After three months of treatment, the cancer looked to be gone, but a spinal tap would reveal a huge bump in this little trucker's road to recovery.
"We thought we had him in remission - which means that we don't see any more cancer. Then a couple months later we did a spinal tap. That's when it came back from pathology that his lymphoma was now in his central nervous system, and that's scary. That's very scary because that's not something that can easily be cured," Heather said.
The cancer had now spread throughout Treasure's entire body and immediate action was needed. Experts at the UMC Children's Hospital worked closely with another CMN hospital in Fort Worth as Treasure received a stem cell transplant.
A pediatric specialist at Cook Children's Hospital infused the stem cells, which is essentially a new immune system, from a small bag into Treasure's body. It's a process that takes only a few hours, but the results offer another chance at life.
So what if treasure would have not gotten the transplant?
"He wouldn't be with us. He wouldn't be with us. So it's an amazing thing. It's amazing how far medicine has come now," Heather said.
"Oh, there have been many times (when Treasure lifted my spirits). I feel very fortunate to have that little boy. (He is) what got me though his mother and grandmother. If I didn't have to take care of him, I don't know where I would have been. Yeah, he's defiantly a blessing," Harvie said.
Treasure truly is a miracle kid. Today - after waging not one, but two wars - this little fighter is cancer free. But because of the transplant, Treasure still makes weekly trips to the Southwest Cancer Center just to make sure his body keeps on winning.
"How often do you have to come to the hospital?" Christy asked.
"Once at a time," Treasure told me. (I guess it was a silly question.)
"He's a happy well adjusted little boy considering all he's been through, but then again things are looking better but it's a close, close watch," Heather said.
A road Harvie says is easier traveled thanks to your donations to the Children's Miracle Network.
"It's worth it. You never know when you're going to need it or not. I mean this took me completely by surprise. I'm glad that it's as close as it is, I would hate to have to go half way across the country. I'm glad that we have what we have here and who we have," Harvie said.
"That's how it is with all the doctors and all the nurses here at the Cancer Center. We love our patients and we love to become a part of their lives, because they definitely become a part of ours."
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