LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The freshman year of high school is a time of major transition for teens moving onto the next stage in life. Athletics, classes and dating typically top the list of concerns, not a diagnosis of cancer. But, one Sulphur teen has found the bright spot in his leukemia diagnosis.
140 miles from his Sulphur home, 15-year-old Cade Gillard is enjoying one of his first week-long releases from Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. "It's been very, very, very long," says Cade.
It's been nearly six months since a bout with mono turned up a serious red flag with Cade's health. "My blood counts just weren't coming up after six weeks," he says, "when I was supposed to be healing."
Cade's test results showed a diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a cancer that starts inside bone marrow and quickly spreads. "I was like, 'what?'" recalls Cade, "'okay, roll back, you said what? You have leukemia.'"
While the words sank into Cade, his parents were in disbelief. "My first thought was their test was wrong," says Cade's father, David, "I said there's just no way."
"He was so healthy and so athletic and outgoing," says Melanie, Cade's mother, "you don't think that it can attack somebody like that."
Cade was diagnosed with leukemia on October 23rd, 2009. By the day's end, the Gillard's knew that their faith would be the driving force in overcoming this disease. "Everything that is down on the inside of you," says Melanie, "that foundation that you have - rises up and you realize that you're not going through this alone."
With the support of his family and trust in God, Cade set out to beat cancer like he had so many opponents in wrestling competitions. "I'm gonna beat this," he says, "it's no competition. I'm gonna shoot, I'm gonna take it down and I'm gonna pin it."
It's been a rough few months, but Cade has successfully completed two rounds of chemotherapy and has undergone a bone marrow transplant, thanks to his 13-year-old sister, who is a perfect match.
While in the hospital, Cade's been writing songs about his journey. "Fight of My Life" sums up his outlook on this disease. "I'll be glad to take this, be glad to beat this," sings Cade, "'cause God is on my side."
In spite of the ups and downs of his recovery, Cade is standing strong on the foundation that he believes in. "I think people see a young man that is strong in his faith and nobody can budge him and nothing can shake him," says Cade, "because I believe nothing can shake me."
Because of Cade's bone marrow transplant, he can't be more than 20 minutes away from Texas Children's Hospital for 100 days. But if everything goes well, he will be home for the summer.
*In the meantime, Water's Edge Gathering is organizing the "CadeMan 5K," a run to help the Gillard family with the expenses of the treatment. The event will take place Saturday, April 3rd at 8:00 A.M. at the Lake Charles Civic Center. Click here to register.
*As an added bonus, you can click here to watch Cade perform the full version his song, "Fight of My Life" for Dr. Jennifer Arnold, star of TLC's "The Little Couple."