Okotoks youth celebrates being cancer free
Health: Lukas Huber, 11, has healthy outlook after three years of treatment
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 09, 2013 10:38 am
2013 marks the end to what has been a three-year nightmare for one Okotoks family.
In August 2009, seven-year-old Lukus Huber was diagnosed with Leukemia following a trip to the hospital to determine the cause for his occasional fevers and severe pelvic pain.
“It was disbelief,” mom Lorna Huber explained about finding out her son’s diagnoses. “I knew something was pretty bad.”
Doctors told Huber that it would be a long, but successful, process for her son to become cancer free. The doctors were right.
“It was really tough,” said the single mom of five children. “Nausea was part of our life, and vomiting. We had to learn to live with it.”
After three exhausting years of endless chemotherapy treatments, blood transfusions, MRIs and visits to the hospital, Lukus, now 11, can look forward to living a normal life.
Cancer free, but with a chance of a relapse, Lukus only has to endure monthly check-ups for the first year which will taper off after 10 years.
“Sometimes it’s hard to believe that I’m not waking him up in the middle of the night and having to give him pills and he’s not sick in the morning,” said Huber. “I’m really excited that he is going to be healthy.”
The family held a celebration with friends and family at the Crystal Shores Beach House in Okotoks on Jan. 5 including a presentation of an engraved medal to Lukus for his bravery and a balloon release, with each balloon representing what he no longer has to endure.
“It’s good to say goodbye to everything I’ve gone through,” he said.
Lukus said at one point during his illness he was afraid he would be sick forever. He missed his friends and the activities he enjoyed during his healthier days. He even missed school.
“I spent most of the time in the hospital,” he said. “It was horrible. I don’t get to do much there.” No longer feeling pain, nausea and weakness, Lukus said he looks forward to the months ahead playing Lego, Nerf guns with his friends, riding his bike and playing Skylanders Giants.
“I can do whatever I want,” he said.
Lukus was administered oral chemotherapy treatments every day and injections in his spinal cord every eight weeks.
In just the first month of chemotherapy treatments Lukus dropped 10 pounds. When he was put on steroids to gain weight and he put on double the weight he lost in two to three weeks. However, the drugs damaged his bones and at the age of eight he was diagnosed with osteoporosis at a level worse than a 90-year-old.
“They ate his bones,” said Huber, adding he suffered a fractured back and two broken arms as a result. “He would have a really hard time going up and down the stairs. It was so painful for him.”
Lukus was put on bone-building drugs, which caused nausea. He was then given anti-nausea drugs. It was a vicious circle.
The steroids caused extreme emotions in the mild-mannered boy and Huber said her son would go from rage one moment to joy the next.
In addition he suffered from terrible migraines and wasn’t always able to keep his medicine down.
“There is a puke bucket everywhere and sometimes the drugs wouldn’t work,” she said. “Many times they had to reduce the amount of chemo because he couldn’t handle it. I was powerless through it all. It’s an extremely high stressful time.” Lukus spent two of his last three birthdays in the hospital.
“You just have ways of trying to cope,” said Huber. “There are a few times when you’re like everything is fine but inside you are freaking. I was so exhausted mentally but you figure out how to cope and function.”
Lukus remembers feeling weak much of the time.
“Getting up on my feet was hard,” he said. “When I go down to the ground it was hard for me to get up.”
During the three years Lukus lost his hair four times.
“He wasn’t as traumatized as I think some people would be with the hair loss,” said Huber. “He was very accepting of everything.”
In fact, Huber said she heard little complaint from her son despite what he was going through.
“He never asked why or complained or whined or wallowed or pouted,” she said. “He’s really gone through a lot and he did it with honour. There wasn’t self pity with him whatsoever.”
While other children his age were riding their bikes and playing with their friends, Lukus was in bed or at the hospital.
“We tried to put him in Scouts but he was fairly sick and he missed out that way,” she said. “He’s really been through a lot. It was a battle.”
The Huber family lived in Calgary when Lukus was diagnosed, but moved to Okotoks shortly after so she could be closer to her job at Shoppers Drug Mart. Her two eldest sons stayed with their dad in the city.
The company gave Huber a six-month leave and helped her out on many occasions.
“The owners sent me a huge care package when everything happened and when we moved here Shoppers gave us a whole bunch of food and money,” she said. “When he was sick and I had to stay home with him it wasn’t an issue.”
Even Lukus’ school was supportive. Although he spent little time in class, when he transferred to Westmount School in the fall the staff gave him a tour, gifts and lunch at McDonalds, said Huber.
The family was also presented a Christmas package by another family in the school at Christmas time, providing the children with several toys.
“The whole office was full of gifts,” said Huber. “It was so overwhelming and such a huge presentation of love.”