GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - We introduced you to 15-month-old Hunter Ballard two weeks ago, right after he was diagnosed with ATRT.
His Uncle Josh continues to send updates, knowing many of you care. (ATRT is a very rare cancer, short for Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor. The best description is that it’s a fast-growing cancerous tumor of the brain and spinal cord.)
Hunter is from Lowell, in Gaston County. A couple of days after that original post, Hunter had a fever varying from 99, up to 104. His mom, Amy, who’s in the hospital with him constantly, says the fever was confusing and scary. She says at first doctors thought Hunter might have pneumonia… then maybe bacterial infection… then wondered if it was meningitis.
They never did get a definitive answer.
But the great news is that, for now, that mysterious fever dissipated and is behind them. Hunter is moving ahead with treating cancer. He received his port, had a feeding tube inserted into his stomach, and… drum roll please… flew to Memphis, Tennessee.
“He was accepted into St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital!” said Uncle Josh. “We felt that would be the best overall spot to help our lil’ man based on their experience with this particular cancer and knowing all treatments are paid for. We wanted to waste no time, so a medical flight team was sent for Hunter and his mom to take him to Tennessee for the next 9-12 months.” [Picture below.]
Josh says not having Hunter and Amy here for Christmas will make this year much different for everyone… especially Hunter’s siblings.
“We just keep reassuring them even without their mom and baby brother here, they’ll be in good hands,” Josh said. “The support for my nephew has been unreal. The #HunterStrong and #MollysKids families are strong. We continue to fight through this together and are hopeful for continued progress now that they’re in Memphis.”
When Hunter, his mom Amy, and Uncle Matt (another one of Amy’s brothers) arrived in Memphis, they hit the ground running. Amy tells Josh that Hunter seems stable and a therapy team is actively working to get him eating again. And today is a huge day in that Hunter started chemotherapy. He’ll take chemo for three days, then leave for a few days to recover, then go back for another three days of chemo, then spend another few days away.
“A necessary honorable mention must go to Uncle Matt,” said Uncle Josh. “He’s the youngest of the brothers. He quit his job to remain with Amy and Hunter and is present with them in Memphis. We’re a close family and he says he’s there for the long haul. Amy also had to quit her job to care for her baby. She and her other kids need all the support they can get right now, as the focus is all on Hunter. We think he’ll eventually overcome this evil cancer and are thankful for the love and support received from friends, family, and strangers who’ve joined us in this war.”
Here comes chemo, Hunter. You’re too young to understand what’s happening, but take comfort in the fact you’re surrounded by love.
Please keep sending updates and photos, Josh. Even if they’re hard to see. One glance can show with no words at all why we’re so desperately passionate to find a pediatric cancer cure.