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Young baseball player battles leukemia

Posted: April 24, 2012 - 11:02pm  |  Updated: April 25, 2012 - 8:33am
Standing in front of some of his baseball memorabilia, Carson Busby, 11, of Grovetown, holds a baseball bat signed by the Philadelphia Phillies. He has leukemia and is the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Augusta Chapter's Boy of the Year, an inspiration for those raising money in the society's inaugural Man and Woman of the Year campaign that runs through June 1.  Photo By Valerie Rowell
Photo By Valerie Rowell
Standing in front of some of his baseball memorabilia, Carson Busby, 11, of Grovetown, holds a baseball bat signed by the Philadelphia Phillies. He has leukemia and is the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Augusta Chapter's Boy of the Year, an inspiration for those raising money in the society's inaugural Man and Woman of the Year campaign that runs through June 1.

Twitter @ValerieRowell

If loving baseball is genetic, then Carson Busby is predisposed to play the game.

Kristin Busby said her 11-year-old son has been playing baseball since he was 5 years old and excelled in the game.

Several men in Carson’s family played professional baseball and his older brother Cameron, 16, is a standout player at Grovetown High School.

Unfortunately, baseball isn’t the only thing in Carson’s blood.

In early 2010, Carson was diagnosed with pre-B cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

“85 percent of (blood) cells in his body were cancerous,” Kristin Busby said.

She said she noticed in late 2009 that Carson was having a lot of low-grade fevers, back pain, bruises and fatigue. The always-active boy slept a lot.

With the diagnosis confirmed, the Lewiston Elementary School fifth-grader began a three-year course of chemotherapy and steroid treatments.

“He’s had every side effect imaginable,” Busby said, adding that one treatment sent Carson into liver failure and a month-long stay in intensive care.

But the shy and sometimes silly boy has handled the effects of his leukemia and the treatment with an “I do what I’ve got to do” attitude.

That’s why he was recently named the Boy of the Year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Augusta Chapter’s inaugural Man and Woman of the Year fundraising campaign.

Carson and a 6-year-old Girl of the Year from Hephzibah serve as inspiration for the eight people aiming to raise funds for the society during the campaign that runs through June 1.

“He handles it (chemotherapy treatment) with a lot of grace,” said Augusta Chapter Campaign Manager Kate Sanders. “He handles it better than most people. ... I don’t think he even realizes just how impressive he is.”

All of the money raised in the campaign goes toward research, the society’s patient programs and advocacy efforts.

Carson’s form of leukemia was deemed incurable in 1960. Now it has a 90 percent survival rate, but remains the No. 1 disease killer of people under 20, Sanders said.

“We’ve come so far in a relatively short amount of time,” Sanders said. “We’re getting there. That’s why the funding is so important.”

The effects of Carson’s therapies is what keeps him from baseball and the other activities he loves. That is the hardest part and what he’s most looking forward to getting back to when his treatments conclude next spring.

For Busby, whose grandmother had leukemia and mother died from another cancer, watching the physical effects of the chemotherapy and steroids on her son is devastating.

“To have four years out of your childhood, that’s a big chunk of childhood taken from him,” Busby said, adding that Carson still plays with the travel team the Georgia River Dawgs when he feels up to it.

Carson will finish chemotherapy in the seventh grade. Busby said she expects about a year for the toxins to clear from his body and for him to feel healthy again. That means Carson will be ready to play as a high school freshman.

Getting back onto the baseball diamond to continue his family’s baseball legacy is something Carson can’t wait to do.

Busby’s great uncle is Baseball Hall of Famer Jesse Haines, a St. Louis Cardinals pitcher who led the team to five pennants and a 1926 World Series win over the New York Yankees.

Carson’s grandfather, Jim Busby, played Major League baseball for several teams between 1950 and 1962, including the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox. He then coached for 16 years, with eight years as an Atlanta Braves coach.

Even Carson’s father, also Jim Busby, played professional baseball. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1975 and played for two of the Pirates’ Minor League teams in Salem, Mass., and Shreveport, La.

For information about the society’s campaign or to make a donation, call (706) 733-4190 or visit www.mwoy.org/ga.

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