In an ideal post, Wil Ohler would be writing about his work in goal in the early part of the soccer season. How he and his team have fought local powers Webster Groves to a 2-2 duel and CBC to 2-1 loss in overtime. How appreciative he is of the support for the team and those around him. That last part is very much true, but circumstance, namely cancer, has put him in the fight of his life and on the soccer sidelines.
Last Spring, Ohler was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic lymphoma or ALL. His mother Tamara has chronicled its journey in a blog, ALL IN FOR WIL, which takes you from Day One:
“We walk in and I say I have William here to do some blood work and they are like ok, have a seat and your nurse will be out. Wil and I chat as there are several 3-4 year old bald boys walking around …Wil feels bad that he is complaining about his headaches when these boys have cancer. The nurse comes back and gets us and the doctor comes in right away and says she is going to take blood. I ask her to test for mono since I didn’t get the test results from the ped. YES we are still clueless. The doctor says they are testing for leukemia, I’m literally like what, ok…. They say we can walk around the waiting area and play some games. Wil takes on the NBA challenge and I start texting my sisters. complaining about why would she say leukemia, like that is a terrible to thing to say to someone especially when they haven’t even done blood work. Like I’m really, really angry, but just figure it is me overreacting as my Uncle Sonny had passed away from leukemia.
The doctor calls us back into the examination room, she says “I have good news and bad news. Good news is I know exactly what it is. The bad news is it is Leukemia.”
I’m supposed to be giving him wings, to give him enough space to make his own mistakes while I’m still his safety net. How do I do that now with a list of cancer safety rules? How do I balance the teenage invincibility with the very real concern of death from T-cell ALL?
To say that the conversations in our home are filled with depth and intensity would be an understatement. Parenting a teenager is never easy. Parenting a teenager with cancer, well I guess we will all travel this journey together and find out how it goes!
We have made it through 3 months… on to month 4, thank you again for traveling with us.
An important step in the journey came last week, when Lindbergh Soccer held a an Orange Out for the CBC match as a way to raise awareness about Leukemia.
“For Wil, not playing soccer is the hardest part of this whole diagnosis. He has had 10 surgeries, dozens of shots, has stopped walking twice, endures puking, nausea, migraines, wheelchairs, crippling joint pain, etc BUT missing soccer is what hurts him the most. SO the support of his Lindbergh soccer team and his classmates is just plain humbling. He wants to be on the field leading the charge and giving his friends something to cheer about, but they are cheering him on. It is overwhelming, humbling, moving, and gives us a lift in those many moments when our new normal is dragging us down. I’ve always said that the English language does not have adequate words to describe the range of emotions…so thankful has to do.”