For the past two years, Isacc Young, 11, has spent birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas at Children’s Health in Plano, Texas, where she was undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia. This is the second time in Isacc’s short life that he has undergone cancer treatments. He hoped he could spend Christmas at home with his family this year instead of working on IV pills receiving chemotherapy. He recently learned that his last day of treatment would be December 22, just a few days after his birthday.
“This was the first Christmas since before his diagnosis that we are not going to the hospital for a chemo appointment,” mom Karen Young told TODAY. “He was on Thanksgiving twice. He had radiation on his ninth and tenth birthdays. This is actually his first birthday in years that we don’t go to a radiation appointment.”
For Isacc, this is a great birthday and Christmas present combined.
“I’m hoping for other gifts,” he told TODAY. “But if not, then the end of treatment is good enough.”
When Isaac was 2, he had leukemia. Six years later, he learned that it had returned. Courtesy Young Family
Those remaining gifts on his wish list? Some video games, books and a microscope.
“When I grow up, I think I want to be a meteorologist or marine biologist so I can study aquatic animals that haven’t been discovered yet,” he said.
When Isacc was 2 he was told he had leukemia. This happened before he lived with the Youngs, his adopted parents, so they don’t know much about it.
“Isacc actually came to us through foster care, so we weren’t there,” explains Young. “At the end of his first round, we came into the picture for treatment, but then we were there for follow-up.”
Isaac loves science. Last year he got a telescope for Christmas. This year he hopes for a microscope.Courtesy of Young Family
About two years ago, Isacc thought he had hurt his testicles while exercising and told his mother something. They visited his pediatrician and called his oncologist. His mother taught that it is not uncommon for boys to have problems with their testicles when it comes to leukemia.
“They wanted to see him almost immediately the next day and had him for biopsies and then did a spinal tap to confirm what it is,” Young said. “He had a relapse in his testicles and spinal fluid.”
The family was stunned to learn that his treatment plan would last more than two years.
“Of course it was heartbreaking. Many ‘What does this mean to him? What does this mean for us?’” said Young. “We had a lot of pretty serious conversations that you normally don’t plan on having with your third-grader.”
But Isacc took the treatment vigorously and never complained.
“Isacc has been through a lot and yet what he’s been through and his experiences have made him one of the kindest, most compassionate kids you could ever know. He cares and cares for others,” Young said. ‘He is strong. He is resilient. He’s brave and I think he’s going to do great things through these experiences.”
It’s tough being in the hospital for chemotherapy for holidays and birthdays. But this year, Isacc will be spending his first Christmas at home after two years of cancer treatment. Courtesy of Children’s Health
Isacc had 43 nights in the hospital for clinical chemotherapy, 12 rounds of testicular radiation and 12 rounds of skull radiation. The radiation treatments were especially hard on Young.
Being home for his birthday and Christmas feels like a great gift for Isacc and his family.Courtesy of Children’s Health
“He was the only child there among all kinds of adults who were being treated for all kinds of cancer,” Young said. “You have to be calm and fearless and be present in the situation so that he doesn’t get scared. It is certainly not for the faint of heart and he did very well with everything.” Although the family is excited to celebrate Christmas together, they must continue to isolate until Isacc’s immune system improves and he can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. He waits for a Make-A-Wish gift from a trip the family hopes to make in the spring.
“Hopefully we can travel and see friends, visit family, visit places and do things we haven’t been able to do,” she said. “We’ve learned how much we enjoy each other’s company and how simple life can be and how to enjoy things without all the hustle and bustle we had before and that’s something we all hope we can figure out how to hold on to. ”