Kilgore family reflects on cancer journey during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Kilgore family reflects on cancer journey during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 10:20 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2023 at 10:51 PM CDT
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KILGORE, Texas (KLTV) -September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and with that brings discussions of the struggles that come with a cancer diagnosis in a child. One of those struggles is that in the East Texas area, childhood oncology centers are few and far between, forcing families to drive to either Dallas or Houston for treatments.

Kai Tucker Was 16 years old when he was diagnosed with stage 2b Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He was a sophomore at Kilgore Highschool while his mom, Amye, was the media teacher there as well. Kai says symptoms started shortly after the school year started.

“I got sick with COVID first and even before that I was losing weight. I lost about 15 pounds at that point,” Kai said.

The Tuckers went to doctor after doctor to find the source of his sickness with no answers. Amye says in January they went to their pediatrician who referred them to Cooke Children’s in Fort Worth.

“After being a part of that I then realized there aren’t a lot of options for cancer treatments for kids, especially. You have a couple of options in the DFW area and Houston. So, every single treatment from that point on and from this point forward will be done in Fort Worth,” Amye said.

Kai immediately started a 21-day chemo cycle and continued it for four months. Kai couldn’t go back to school and Amye was on leave from her job, as well, during treatments due to being so far away and having to go back and forth.

“Physically we weren’t able to be here, which was surreal,” Amye said.

Kai is the oldest of four children in a tight-knit family, and being away for treatments was tough.

“It was really hard on us but overall, I think it grew us closer together more than we realize,” Kai said.

Ayme says the people at Cooke became like family and a source of comfort during the hard times, so anytime something was wrong, it was hard to be so far from them.

“You know it’s about 2.5 hours to get to the hospital well that’s okay when you are planning on it, but when it’s an unexpected trip because he has a fever those are things that are kind of hard to make happen quickly,” Amye said.

Today Kai is in remission but still has to travel to Fort Worth every six months for screenings.

“it’s a hard thing to get pulled out of your life for three or four months and then just thrown back into it, so it definitely raises some concerns every time,” Kai said.

Both Kai and Amye have returned back to work and school. Kai is now a senior in high school