Diagnosed in November of 2015 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Grant Pratt, now 15, went through his treatments with quiet determination, always looking forward, inspiring his family and many others with the way he handled the long, hard fight against the disease.
Mom, Liz, a teacher at Reeths Puffer School in Muskegon, dad Greg, superintendent of Lowell Public Schools and older brother Garrett, his wider family and friends were just part of his support system, the community of Lowell also was also pulling for him in his fight. Grant kept up his physical conditioning and grades at school, often doing homework during hospital treatments.
This is not the first bout with cancer for the Pratts, mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and she continues in remission. “She showed me how to fight this disease on a daily basis,” Grant said.
In July, 2016, nine months into the trying and painful treatments, he was looking forward to being a freshmen at Lowell schools and being able to wrestle and just to feel “normal.”
He was going to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital’s 10th floor outpatient clinic two days a week for a lumbar puncture, chemo injected into the spinal column and other chemo drugs delivered trough the port in his chest over a relatively short visit, four hours; or a longer stretch of eight or nine hours.
He spent up to a week at a time in the hospital. And then, the side effects; headaches, body aches, nausea, fatigue, mouth sores, joint pain, swelling and hair loss. He looked forward to when he wouldn’t have to deal with it. “Sometimes, I forget what it feels like to be normal,” he said last July.
In February, 2017, Grant has reached some of his goals; he’s a freshman at Lowell High, played on the football team, wrestles, and plans on being the catcher on the baseball team this spring.
But the best news is he is now into a three-year maintenance regimen with once a month treatments at the hospital and a daily pill. It is easier to take than earlier treatments and, “I’m handling it pretty good.”
His days now are more in line with typical 15 year olds: school, practice for a football, wrestling or baseball, hanging with older brother Garrett, “always,” and now feeling “a lot better.” And he hasn’t stopped looking forward. He plans to go to college to become a bio-medical engineer.
If faced with something as serious as cancer, his advice to others is to, “take it one day at a time, be patient and just persevere through it.”
Does he feel normal yet? “Not quite, but it’s getting a lot closer.”
The Pratt family (from left) Garrett, Dad Greg, Mom Liz and Grant.