Support...it is the greatest gift anyone can give to someone battling cancer. According to Lukas Hollis, Watertown High School senior and cancer survivor, “it was what helped me stay strong and know that I could beat it.”
In May of 2013, Lukas was diagnosed with stage two testicular cancer. At the time, he was taking a weight training class at school and had dismissed his pain as a hernia. When he could no longer put it off, he went to the ER at Summit where an ultrasound revealed a tumor the size of a small orange. Surgery was scheduled immediately and the doctors were optimistic that they had gotten it all.
Several months later, Lukas was walking home from school and as he approached his house he saw his father, Kase, sitting on the porch waiting for him. “I immediately knew something was wrong,” says Lukas. The news was not good. Lukas’s markers were way up indicating that the cancer was present and moving in his body. This meant that Lukas would need to begin chemotherapy treatments immediately.
“I was fine with everything they were telling me until the doctor explained that I would lose my hair,” says Lukas. “That is when it really sunk in what was happening to me.” Lukas’s mom, Bridget, was apprehensive about the treatments as well, but was pleasantly surprised by how well they went. In fact, much of his time in the hospital was spent cheering up other patients. “Lukas would win a prize in the BINGO games and give them away to younger children who hadn’t won,” says Bridget smiling.
The support from the community helped make the whole process much easier for the family, as well. “The Watertown community amazed us,” says Lukas. “There wasn’t a day that went by through my entire treatment that I didn’t receive a card or gift from someone.”
Medical bills began to pile up, and Kase quit his job to be with Lukas throughout his treatment. Bridget began to search for assistance programs for families battling cancer, but quickly found that their family did not qualify for most programs. She had read about an organization called Sherry’s Run in the papers, but thought that Lukas would not qualify because of his age. She tried anyway, and was pleasantly surprised when she heard back from Tonyia Watson, Director of Patient Assistance for Sherry’s Run.
The first month, the electric bill was paid and they received grocery and gas cards in the mail. It was a great relief for the time, but Bridget assumed it was a one-time thing. So, when she called to pay her bill the following month and found that it had already been taken care of, she was overwhelmed with relief and gratitude. “You can’t imagine what a huge impact this made,” says Bridget. “This allowed us to take that extra money and pay off medical bills. It was such a relief to know you do not stand alone.”
“No cancer patient or family should have to feel alone in this journey,” says Watson. “We are so blessed by the opportunity to stand with Lukas and families like his while they fight the greatest battle of their lives.”
Lukas is now 20 months in remission and beginning to make plans for college. He is very interested in medical research because of his experiences and looks forward to traveling and seeing the world. When asked what he would say to other kids facing cancer he says, “Stay strong! Be persistent and know that you can beat it. You do not stand alone!”
Sherry’s Run invites you to stand with your neighbors battling cancer by registering for the twelfth annual Sherry’s Run.