By DAVID GREEN
It was as if a dark cloud settled over Fayette last week when news spread about the health of Kellen Keiser.
Following treatments for acute lymphoblastic leukemia last summer, the Fayette freshman finally returned to school over the winter and his prognosis improved.
He joined the baseball team and had the opportunity to start a JV game at second base. He took part in other school activities, including the prom.
But he started to feel some discomfort this spring and was running a low fever. His parents, Kirk and Tina Keiser, suspected influenza, but when the fever kept hanging on, they took their son to St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo for testing.
“His blood counts were fine,” Kirk said, “so the doctor figured it was a bacterial and viral infection. But then his counts started to fall so they checked his bone marrow [through an MRI scan] and discovered the leukemia had returned.”
Many people in the area were cheering for Kellen’s improvement in the fight against his disease and news of the reversal hit hard.
The person who seems to remain the most optimistic is Kellen himself.
“He’s handled it better than everyone else, I think,” Kirk said. “He never ceases to amaze me.”
His return to school and related activities make his new absence all the more noticeable.
“He made a couple plays in the baseball game along with one miss, but he did great,” Kirk said. “It was wonderful seeing him out there being a ‘normal kid.’”
Kellen faces some tough days ahead—more than 100 chemotherapy treatments followed by a bone marrow transplant.
The regimen varies within each of the three rounds of five-week chemo treatments, Kirk said. He starts off with twice-a-week appointments followed by nearly daily treatments in the second and third week.
His time away from the hospital will vary with the schedule and how Kellen is feeling.
“He’ll likely be at the hospital more than he was last year because the treatments are more intense,” Kirk explained.
Once he stabilizes from the chemo, it’s off to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus for a 100-day stay during the transplant process.
Kirk said he’s been asked by friends about the possibility of them becoming a bone marrow donor and he’s still seeking information about how people can help.
Kirk said he and his wife were tested last week to see if they could become donors. They’ll have an answer in a couple of weeks.
The Keiser’s daughters, Emilie and Zoee, have a one in four chance of matching up, Kirk said, while he and his wife have a one in eight chance.
“If we don’t match, they will go to the national donor registry,” he said.
Kirk said he’s told his children there are times when life just doesn’t seem fair.
“But it’s what you do in those times that matters,” he said.
“We continue to keep faith and ask others to do the same.”