CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Please note Leland Christman's shirt. Hold that thought. Now read this lil' guys stats:
- NAME: Leland Christman.
- AGE: 3-and-a-half.
- HOME: Clover, SC.
- PERSONALITY: Full of energy.
- DIAGNOSIS: In remission from AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia).
- HOW IT BEGAN: With ear infection after ear infection.
Who would think that's how you find out you have cancer?
By the sixth ear infection his mom took him to an ENT to get his tubes and adenoids removed. It didn't help. Which led doctors to eventually confirm the cancer diagnosis. He wasn't even a year old.
"Leland's journey has been rough," says mom Leanne Christman. "He had four intensive rounds of chemotherapy, countless blood and platelet transfusions, bone marrow aspirations, ultrasounds and much more… all I wanted, more than anything, was to take it away from him."
That's what you hear from every parent of every child fighting these adult diseases.
"I wanted to take it from him" or "I wish it was me" or "I felt helpless watching my baby suffer."
It's worse, Leanne says, when your child isn't even old enough to talk and you have to guess at everything.
Thankfully, Leland can now say how he feels. He's doing great and at the top of charts for his height and weight (95th percentile for both).
He loves music, dancing, playing hide-and-seek, swimming, Thomas the Train, The Pittsburgh Steelers and Carowinds.
Wait. The Steelers? As in the team that played Carolina Panthers Thursday night? Yes. Leland was there.
It all happened fast. One of you guys messaged me here on Facebook two days ago - said you have four tickets for the game and asked if I had any #MollysKids who might want to use them. At that exact moment I was writing Leland's story. I had actually just typed out the letters S-T-E-E-L-E-R-S... I thought it was karma.
Leland had a heck of a time. His mom sent pictures.
"He's a really happy child," Leanne says. "My baby loves life. But last night might have been one of his highlights. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can't believe another mother donated those tickets to make my child smile."
That's more than awareness. That's actual ACTION.
Leland is a beautiful child who can wear the title "cancer-free". Not every child is that lucky. These stories this month – "30 stories. 30 kids. 30 days." – are reminders of the good and the crushing. Every child is in our backyard. All are real.
Share these stories. Spread the word. Better yet, get involved in one of the bazillion causes going on this month to help these kids. If you want ideas, email me: email@example.com.
Keep smiling, Leland. We're glad you had a blast last night. Here's to continuing a cancer-free journey.
**Editor's note: This is a about a member of #MollysKids, one of the kids WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham follows closely on her Facebook page. This article was first published there – maybe you'll be able to tell that in the personal way it's written. For years Molly has followed the stories of dozens of kids with uphill medical battles. Find this story and updates on all of #MollysKids here.**