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Living for the good days

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5-year-old is winning his battle with leukemia

By Shannon Brock

Michael Bishop has good days and bad days.

On his good days, you’ll find the 5-year-old outside playing with his trucks, camping or fishing.

On his bad days, he’ll be inside, weak and without the energy to do the things he loves.

Michael, son of Terri and James Bishop, was diagnosed with leukemia in September 2007.

His cancer is in remission now, but the maintenance stage still keeps his parents guessing as to which days will be the good ones.

The week of Michael’s diagnosis is one his mother, Terri, won’t forget.

She remembers he was sick over the weekend. He had a fever and she began treating him as if he had a cold.

Feeling a little better by Monday, Michael went to preschool at the Early Childhood Center. That day, his teacher, Melissa Marple, noticed a knot on his neck and notified his family. She advised them to have it checked out, and Michael’s grandmother took him to the doctor while his parents were at work.

After running a few tests, doctors told the family Michael had leukemia and to take him to the University of Kentucky hospital as soon as possible.

That day was the first of 22 consecutive days Michael and his family would spend at UK.

Michael began what his mother calls “very intense chemotherapy.” And although the family has been in and out of the hospital since September 2007, the treatment has worked and Michael is living cancer-free.

He still visits the doctor once a month, but takes most of his medication at home, Terri said.

The whole process has been very difficult on the family, she said.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen from one day to the next,” she said.

Michael spent this last year, his kindergarten year, on homebound. But he did get to attend his kindergarten graduation and catch up with his friends. He’s planning on starting first grade at Robert B. Turner Elementary School in the fall — if he has enough good days.

When his blood count or immune system is down, he can’t be around other children. Family members have to use masks around him and frequently wash their hands with Germ-X hand sanitizer, Terri said.

“You never know if he’s going to end up in the hospital or not,” she said. “You just don’t know.”

Terri said having a child diagnosed with cancer is an “emotional roller coaster ride.”

“On the days when he feels good, he acts like a normal child,” she said. “There are days when he won’t eat anything all day and there are days when he eats all day long.”

On the good days, Michael likes eating Ramen noodles, tomato sandwiches and anything with chicken in it. On the good days, he’ll play outside, catch bluegill and dream of having a runabout boat in red — his favorite color.

This Friday, June 5, Michael will lead the survivor lap at the Woodford County Relay for Life. And because he’s a survivor, Friday will definitely be a good day.

E-mail Shannon Mason Brock at sbrock@theandersonnews.com.