Young goalie hopes to shutout cancerArea News
-- As a hockey goalie, Croix Hurtis is used to stopping opponents cold. Now he’s hoping to accomplish the same thing in his tough battle against leukemia.
By: Jeff Holmquist, Pierce County Herald
As a hockey goalie, Croix Hurtis is used to stopping opponents cold. Now he’s hoping to accomplish the same thing in his tough battle against leukemia.
Hurtis, 11, has been receiving treatment for Burkitt leukemia for the past three weeks. His home away from home since Christmastime has been Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.
The first signs of trouble developed around Thanksgiving when Croix had a toothache. The New Richmond, Wis. Middle School sixth-grader was scheduled for a dental appointment anyway, so Croix’s parents weren’t too concerned.
But as Christmas approached, Croix began complaining about sore legs and other aches. He had trouble getting up from the ice while playing goalie for his New Richmond Squirt A team.
“He’s always been an active kid, running around the neighborhood and playing football and hockey,” Kari said.
“We thought it was just growing pains,” Mike added.
Then Croix started getting really sick, turning pale, getting bloody noses and breaking out in a rash. The family rushed Croix to Children’s Hospital on Dec. 26 and within an hour they learned the diagnosis.
“We were just shocked,” Kari said. “You hear about kids who fight cancer, but you never think you’ll be in that situation. A lot of kids think cancer is an old person’s disease and that it’s not something they will have to deal with. That’s not the case.”
Burkitt leukemia, as Kari explained it, is a fast growing cancer but it is also very treatable. Because it is an aggressive form of leukemia, the treatment a patient receives is fairly intense and lasts nine months.
Croix is receiving chemotherapy via a spinal tap and also intravenously. The treatment takes its toll on the boy and forces him to sleep most of the day away.
“It’s like he’s running a marathon internally,” explained Mike. “His body is working so hard to fight back.”
Croix’s condition improved so much last week that doctors let him return home, hoping the family could continue the treatment on their own.
Croix feasted on a batch of wings from Ready Randy’s (his favorite) and spent just a few hours at home. He quickly developed a fever and had to return to Children’s Hospital.
Kari and Mike expect that their son won’t be going anywhere else for another month or so.
Croix’s health is at a critical stage right now, Mike said. His immune system has been knocked out due to the chemotherapy. Croix’s visitors will be severely limited until his body’s immune system comes back.
“The hardest adjustment for Croix is not being able to see his friends or the other players on his hockey team,” Kari said.
His team has kept in contact throughout Croix’s recovery, however. During a recent New Richmond hockey tournament, his team organized a live streaming of their games so Croix could watch from his hospital room. Team members have called, visited, sent gifts and sent cards as well.
Several neighbor children organized a “Cash for Croix” campaign to help the family pay for health care bills. A total of $38 was raised.
A family friend also has organized a rubber band bracelet fundraiser to assist the family. The bracelets, printed in the New Richmond Tiger colors of orange and black, proclaim “Shutout Croix’s Cancer.” The first 200 bracelets were sold out within two days.
This week, students at Croix’s school are holding a “Caps for Croix” fundraiser. Students who want to wear a cap for the day pitch in $1. All the money will be given to the family.
The couple’s employers, Brady’s Brewhouse and the Shamrock Club, also have been tremendously supportive and helpful, the Hurtis family said.
“New Richmond is phenomenal,” Mike said.
“I grew up in the city,” Kari added. “The small town thing kind of drove me nuts at first. But the support we’ve gotten has been amazing.”
Kari and Mike said they are also thankful for all the support they’ve been receiving from family and friends. Someone is almost always on hand at the hospital when the couple needs a break or some stress relief, they said.
Even with all the support and prayers lifting them up, Kari and Mike said they realize the family is in for a long recovery period. Croix won’t be able to head back to school for many months, so tutors will be working with the young student to help him keep up.
Medical bills are also mounting. Simply filling a prescription last week cost the Hurtis family about $400.
“I don’t think people realize how devastating something like this can be to your life,” Kari said. “You can’t comprehend it until you are in the midst of it. It has an impact on everything.”
To help people keep up with Croix’s progress, a CaringBridge site has been set up at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/CroixHurtis/. The site has had about 9,000 visits already.
Most of the daily entries from Kari or Mike include a joke for the day, which Croix offers to lighten things up.
An example: What do you call a Grizzly bear with no teeth? A Gummy bear.
“He’s the class clown for 2018,” Kari explained.
“He’s a wonderful kid,” added grandmother Mary Swain.