2016

About our 2016 sponsor:

20292_10153848185580399_3204112642100095009_nJames Atticus Hunsaker is a fun-loving, out-going, intelligent five- year-old boy. He is the youngest child of Apryl and Jeremy Hunsaker and lives in Brigham City with his parents and 3 older siblings; Ally, Andie, and Jonas. James loves to spend time with his family: riding bikes, swimming, running through the sprinklers, and playing Legos are some of his favorite activities. He attended a preschool run by his mother and a cooperation of other young mothers in their homes over the last school year and was looking forward to school again this year with his friends. James is an excellent reader and loves to find new words to learn everywhere he goes. He is already a better reader than any of his siblings were at his age, thanks to his curiosity and the tutoring of his sisters. By all appearances, James was a normal, healthy four-year-old boy with a zest for life that is infectious.

12829155_10153848185800399_4269135312816417813_oLast summer, James’ parents began to notice some changes in him. His energy was decreasing and, most noticeably, his abdomen began to swell and stiffen. Alarmed at what could be wrong, his parents made an appointment with their family doctor in Brigham City to determine what was wrong. Luckily, his doctor wanted to investigate some shadowing of the liver which showed up on an x-ray. This eventually led to a diagnosis, after multiple tests in Brigham City came back with abnormal results, prompting James’ doctor to send him with his parents to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. Once there, he underwent some more bloodwork and his parents were interviewed by numerous doctors while they waited anxiously in the ER. The probable diagnoses grew steadily worse as more time passed; culminating when yet another doctor came into the ER and introduced himself as an oncologist. This was the first indication for James and his parents just how terrible the news was going to be. Then, the oncologist shattered their lives.

“I’m fairly sure that James has leukemia.”

Results of bloodwork would confirm this the very next morning: positive for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Since the disease progresses so quickly, procedures were scheduled immediately to begin battling his cancer. Luckily, James was able to be fitted with a port-a-cath, making administration of his medicine possible and much easier. Doctors also took samples of his bone marrow and spinal fluid to narrow the diagnosis and test the genetics of his specific cancer to determine if extra risk factors existed that would need to be treated. So far, James has been rated as a standard risk with tests being negative for increased risk factors that would require increased and more drastic treatment. His family and amazing team of doctors, nurses, and technicians are all amazed at how brave James has been and how well he has handled being poked, prodded, woken up throughout the night for tests, and submitted to treatments.

12828382_10153848185810399_2511235939899562498_oJames’ road to recovery is a long and difficult one, full of uncertainty. Some things about it are certain: he has a compromised immune system that will preclude him from participating in many of the activities that he loves. There will be times when he won’t be able to have visitors because the risk of infection is too great. The medicine and chemicals that doctors hope will cure James also attack his natural defenses against other diseases. They will also cause side effects such as nausea, hair loss, anger, and increased appetite.
James will have to undergo many treatments at Primary Children’s Hospital, which is an hour drive away from his house. The first 6 months of his treatments require him to be in the PCH clinic once a week. While his family has lots of help from friends and family to carpool to the clinic, this represents a huge change to the family’s schedule and forces them to be apart more than they are comfortable with. James’ mom, Apryl, is a stay at home mother and now has the added responsibility of being the main day to day caretaker in charge of giving him his many prescriptions, getting him to his appointments, and the added work to protect James from germs. She will also have to watch for a decrease in activity and energy levels, fevers, and frequent bleeding as they could indicate more serious blood problems.

Jeremy and Apryl and their family have learned a lot in the first 6 months since James’ diagnosis. They are amazed at the advances in treating childhood cancers over the last 50 years and have hope that James will beat cancer and live a healthy, normal life many years long. They are focused on the success rates and have found role-models who have already beaten leukemia to look up to and learn from. Unbelievable support through social media, phone calls, and visits has already poured in to help James’ family gain comfort, understanding, and strength in this difficult time. This trial will continue to help make their family stronger and James is strong enough for this battle. Everyone who knows him has no doubt how brave he is.

 


The Tournament: