Cockerham, Amanda A. – Surviving Mesothelioma

Cockerham, Amanda A.

Dear Mr. Rhio,

My name is Addy, and I am in the Children’s ward at Our Lady of the Lake hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  It’s not the best place in the world to be, but the people that take care of me sure are nice.  I have leukemia, and I’ve had it since I was one.  I’m ten years old now; I’ll be eleven in six weeks. That is a big deal because I was not supposed to live past age three.  I am going to be a football player when I grow up.  I wish I could play now, but I’m always in this bed. My mom tells me that to be a football player I have to do my school work first, so Mrs. Lauren comes to see me every day and does my work with me.  I watch every LSU and Saints football game on TV.  While I watch the game, I wear my jersey and imagine that it is me on the field. Last week, two of the Saints players brought me my own jersey with my name on it.  I will be wearing it one day in the super dome pushing through the line to score a touchdown just like I’m pushing through this cancer.

My doctor came to see me yesterday, and he said this time Luke is too big to fight off. Luke is my leukemia; that is what I named it. My mom told me that you named yours Mr. Meso.  We have a lot in common.  I am also a fighter just like you.  My mom has been reading your book, and she reads to me sometimes.  You are a hero to me even more than Drew Brees.  The doctors told me chemo and radiation are not going to tackle Luke this time.  I guess he has been eating his vegetables.  That is what my mom tells me I need to do, just like you.  She said you changed what you ate, so that is what we are doing too. I eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day.  Everything she buys is organic and natural.  She always tells me, “Addy, to be a healthy boy and a great athlete, you need to avoid two things: steroids and hormones.” She buys meat without hormones, so Luke does not feed off of them and get bigger. I take what seems like one million pills a day. I get tired of it sometimes, but if you did it, I can do it.  Knowing that you outlived what the doctors told you, gives me hope that I can too.

I am glad I get to try something different than chemotherapy.  Chemo makes me really sick.  I always tried to cheer my mom up by telling her I was throwing Luke up; he had to come out some way.  Maybe my hair will start to grow back, too.  My hair used to be really cool.  It was black, but it had a blue tint; no one in my class had hair like mine. Did you lose your hair too? When I lost my hair, some of my favorite football players came to see me, and they had shaved their heads to look like me.  That was the best present ever. It inspired me to keep fighting. I am not ready to give up yet. I have a lot more to do in my life. I like to think of cancer like a football game. I just have to push through and make a touchdown. The other team may score points some too, but as long as I score more, I’m still in the game.  If I get tackled, I just get back up and try again; I still have three more downs to go. When I take it one play at a time, I don’t get overwhelmed.  Before I know it, it will be the end of the fourth quarter and I will be celebrating victory.

I hope I get to meet you one day, but I hope it is not for a very long time. Be sure to keep up with the New Orleans saints from heaven. You will see me on the field one day.  I am going to be the best quarterback in the league, so watch for me: Addy Brasseaux, number twenty-two. When I do make it, I want to start a charity for people like you and me to give them hope and help them fight.  I have got to go take all my supplements and eat some vegetables.  Hopefully, you will meet Luke long before you meet me.  Thanks for being such a great example and hero. I hope one day I will be as inspiring to someone as you are to me.

From one fighter to another,
Addy

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