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Boy, 11, will finally spend Christmas home after 2 years of cancer treatment

“I’m hoping for other gifts. But if not end of treatment is good enough," he said.
Isacc Young faced his cancer treatments bravely and developed compassion and kindness from his experience.
Isacc Young faced his cancer treatments bravely and developed compassion and kindness from his experience.Courtesy Children's Health

For the past two years, Isacc Young, 11, has been spending birthdays, Thanksgivings and Christmases at Children’s Health in Plano, Texas, undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia. This is the second time in Isacc’s short life that he has undergone cancer treatments. He hoped that this year he could spend Christmas at home with his family instead of hooked up to IVs receiving chemotherapy. He recently learned that his final day of treatment would be Dec. 22, just a few days after his birthday.

“This was the first Christmas since before his diagnosis that we will not be going to the hospital for a chemo appointment,” mom Karen Young told TODAY. “He was in-patient for two Thanksgivings. He had radiation on his ninth and 10th birthdays. This is actually his first birthday in several years that we are not driving  off to a radiation appointment.”

For Isacc, this is an awesome birthday and Christmas gift combined.

“I’m hoping for other gifts,” he told TODAY. “But if not, the end of treatment is good enough.”

When Isacc was 2, he had leukemia. Six years later, he learned it had returned. Courtesy Young family

Those remaining gifts on his wish list? Some video games, books and a microscope.

“When I grow up I think I want to be a meteorologist or a marine biologist so I can study animals in the water that haven’t been discovered,” he said.

When Isacc was 2 he learned he had leukemia. This happened before he was living with the Youngs, his adopted parents, so they don’t know too much about it.

“Isacc actually came to us through foster care so we weren’t around,” Young explained. “We came into the picture at the end of his first round for treatment, but then we were around for the follow-up.”

Isacc loves science. Last year for Christmas he got a telescope. This year, he's hoping for a microscope.Courtesy Young Family

About two years ago, Isacc thought he had hurt his testicles playing sports and mentioned something to his mom. They visited his pediatrician and called his oncologist. His mom learned it’s not unusual for boys to experience problems with their testicles when it comes to leukemia.

“They pretty much instantly wanted to see him the next day and had him in for biopsies and then did a spinal tap to confirm what it is,” Young said. “He relapsed in his testicles and spinal fluid.”

The family was stunned to learn his treatment plan would continue for over two years.

“It was obviously heartbreaking. A lot of 'What does this mean for him? What does this mean for us?'” Young said. “We had a lot of pretty serious conversations that you don’t typically plan on having with your third grader.”

But Isacc faced treatment with strength and never complained.

“Isacc has been through a lot and yet what he has gone through and his experiences have made him one of the kindest, most compassionate kids that you could ever know. He has care and concern for others,” Young said. “He’s strong. He’s resilient. He’s brave and I think he’s going to do great things because of these experiences.”

It's tough being in the hospital for chemotherapy for holidays and birthdays. But this year, Isacc will spend his first Christmas at home after two years of cancer treatment.Courtesy Children's Health

Isacc had 43 nights at the hospital for in-patient chemotherapy, 12 rounds of testicular radiation and 12 rounds of cranial radiation. The radiation treatments were particularly tough for Young.

Getting to be home for his birthday and Christmas feels like an awesome gift to Isacc and his family.Courtesy Children's Health

“He was the only kid there in the midst of all sorts of adults being treated for all sorts of cancer,” Young said. “You have to be calm and fearless and present in the situation so that it doesn’t freak him out. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart and he did really well with all of it.”While the family is excited to celebrate Christmas together, they have to continue isolating until Isacc’s immune system improves and he can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. He’s waiting for a Make-A-Wish gift of a trip, which the family hopes they can take in spring.  

“Hopefully we’ll be able to travel and go see friends, go see family, visit places and do the things we have not been able to do,” she said. “We learned how much we enjoy each other’s company and how simple life can be and how you can enjoy things without all the busyness we had before and that’s something we’re all hoping we can figure out how to hold onto.”