The Seneca County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously at the end of August to proclaim September as Child Cancer Awareness Month. The impetus for this: Parker Fisher, a Waterloo resident and 11-year-old fifth-grader at La Fayette School.
When he was 9 years old, Parker was diagnosed with Predominant Hodgkins Lymphoma Stage 3B. Stage 3 childhood Hodgkin lymphoma is found in lymph node groups above and below the diaphragm. It occurs when lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell in the immune system, behave abnormally. It is not hereditary; rather, it’s just plain bad luck for someone who gets it.
His parents, Shelby and Chris Fisher, noticed a lump on his neck in November 2020. Several visits were made to the doctor’s office, but it wasn’t until the following March that a clear diagnosis could be made. It is a slow-growing cancer and can take years before it gets to a point where lab testing will show an abnormal reading.
His early symptoms were pain in his legs and body aches. At his age, it can easily be misinterpreted as growing pains.
Treatment involved a strict regimen of chemotherapy, although no radiation was needed. The treatments started in May 2021 and lasted four months. Parker remained at Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester most of that time.
He lost his hair — naturally, that is traumatic for a youngster — but it has returned in a much curlier and thicker state, something that pleases Parker.
The success rate is high for this type of cancer. Survival rates have improved in the past few decades, due largely to advances in treatment. The five-year relative survival rate for all patients diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma is now about 87%.
Certain factors such as the stage (extent) of Hodgkin lymphoma and a person’s age affect these rates. Parker’s parents say they have been told he should have a 95% success rate. Overall, treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma is highly effective, and most people with the condition are eventually cured.
However, not everyone gets it during a coronavirus pandemic, when their immune system is very compromised. Fortunately, the family has averted the virus and, because of his situation, Parker was able to get vaccinated when most kids couldn’t. His first year back at school found him getting lots of colds, etc., but nothing more serious. It takes a bit of time to build up one’s immunity.
The Waterloo community stepped to the plate with a Parker Strong campaign to raise funds and awareness. Many wrote him cards, sold and/or bought T-shirts, made the family food, and gave him gifts. Parker, his sister and parents received an all-expenses paid trip to Disney World this summer due to the good folks at the Make-A-Wish organization.
As far as putting his story out in the public domain? Parker was all for it. He felt if it could inform and educate others it was a good thing to do.
• I think it’s great that Mark Gearan has returned to HWS. My gut feeling is a guy like him has many options in life from which to choose, and the fact the Gearan family thinks so highly of the Colleges and city to return is a wonderful thing. I can’t say enough good things about this family.
• I have heard many complaints about the new Geneva downtown traffic pattern/construction in place. I am willing to give it a fair shake, but there are two glaring mistakes, in my view. To now have no right on red going north on Main Street at the five corners is ridiculous. It helped traffic flow in the city at a critical intersection; there seems no logical reason to eliminate it. The other is not providing a left-hand lane that used to exist going south on Main Street at the Seneca Street traffic light.
• While on the traffic topic: The light at the new Love’s Truck Stop on Route 414 in Tyre is staying red far too long, which is consistently backing up traffic to the Thruway entrance/exit and to the Route 318 and Route 414 intersection.
• The city of Geneva’s winter parking situation is, in my opinion, a no-brainer. It is hard to imagine in today’s society anyone unaware of a major storm approaching. If anyone doesn’t move their car TOW IT. The Finger Lakes Times reported, “During the pilot, the city did not tow vehicles because we could not do this fairly and equitably.” Really? Once people see the city is serious in their towing enforcement, people will comply.
• Glad to see Yates County has shot down efforts to make it a Constitutional County. It was hoped that no assets would support state or federal interventions that are contrary to the U.S. Constitution. My guess is supporters of this still think the 2020 presidential election was stolen.