THOMSON - Judy Hobbs and Brandi McCoy have each lived through a parent's worst nightmare.
Both of their sons were diagnosed with forms of cancer before they were five years old. Five-year-old Ethan Hobbs and 6-year-old Will McCoy have beaten the disease, but the memories of that battle still linger.
"After you have the wind knocked out of you, you pick up the pieces," said Judy Hobbs. "Initially you go to pieces, but then you say, 'You know what, my child is sick and I've got to deal with this."'
Ethan was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, which created a tumor above his eye. He underwent chemotherapy for a year, with his final session taking place last December. Tests indicate that there are no traces of the disease left.
"It stung a little bit," Ethan said of treatment. "I liked the dizzy medicine where I got those toys."
Will McCoy (left), 6, and Ethan Hobbs, 5, are cancer survivors.
Photo by Elwood Hamilton
At Ethan's clinic, each child received a toy for every radiation session. Because he was so young, he was sedated every time.
Will was equally lucky with his treatment results. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease during its early stages. He needed only five months of radiation treatment before learning that the disease was in remission, remarkably, on the day of the 2002 Relay for Life.
"You can't even look at him and tell he's been sick," Brandi McCoy said.
Ethan and Will were informed of their condition and, to an extent, understood what was going on most of the time.
"I had cancer in my lymph nodes. They stuck me and it wasn't nice," said Will of his treatment.
According to his mother, Ethan "heard the word cancer from the beginning, and he knew that."
Both boys, who each attend Thomson Elementary School, were diagnosed within a week of each other during January 2002. The mothers emphasized that parents should keep a watchful eye on their children when they're young.
"I just noticed that Will's lymph nodes and neck were swollen," Brandi McCoy said.
Will was born prematurely, so McCoy always has watched him closely. Though both have returned to school, they are still being closely monitored both by their parents and doctors.
"We will always remember, but my thing is, maybe cancer will be a memory by the time these boys reach adulthood," Judy Hobbs said. "Maybe cancer will be a vaccine you get when you're a baby."
Despite their ordeals, both mothers remain strong.
"Our children have cancer, but our families have cancer, too," Hobbs said. "It's affected all of us. It's a part of our lives and we will forever be affected by it."
Upcoming events in Thomson's Relay for Life
On Friday at Thomson's Augusta Tech campus, local impersonators of Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, and Garth Brooks will perform. Tickets cost $7 in advance and $10 at the door. McDuffie County School Superintendent Ed Grisham will perform as Elvis.
On Friday at Young Memorial Church, there will be a barbecue chicken lunch at 11 a.m. sponsored by Regions Bank. Tickets cost $6 each.
On Friday, Norris Elementary School will hold a "mini" Relay for Life.
On Saturday, Sweetwater Baptist Church will hold a Trash and Treasures sale from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the church.
On Saturday, Dearing Elementary will have a yard sale from 8 a.m. to noon.
On Friday and Saturday, Thomson Elementary School will hold a "mini" Relay for Life. There also are a number of different fund-raisers being run by the school, including dress-down coupons that may be purchased, and small memorials that may be purchased to honor someone.
For additional information regarding any of the events, contact Lynne Entrekin at 595-3216.
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