The future was looking bright for Chris and Jenny Schroeder.
The family’s third child was due Nov. 30, and they expected their 7-year-old son, Kaiden, to be complete with his acute lymphocytic leukemia treatment in February.
But a call announcing Kaiden's relapse stole some of their holiday joy Nov. 29. This was the second time he had relapsed since his original diagnosis three years ago.
“We didn't know how to feel. Happy? Sad?” Jenny said referring to the two days. “When we first had to tell (Kaiden), it was devastation, tears and lots of questions we couldn’t answer.”
Since the birth of Bryson, the family has still wrestled with the unknown. Kaiden has received spinal taps, IV chemotherapy and steroids as he works toward remission, meaning cancer cells stop growing.
“Every day we wait for the phone call to tell us what to do next,” Jenny said. “I try not to think about it too much, just try to go day by day. We’re used to that anyway.”
The latest treatments have caused his hair to thin considerably. When he saw this happening, Chris wanted to join him in his battle.
“I did it to show that I’m there for Kaiden, and I'll do anything to make him happy,” Chris said. “And if it’s shaving my head, then that’s what I’ll do.”
Wallace Chevrolet coworker, Quinn Ruxlow, decided to follow suit, and the two shaved their heads Wednesday.
“We don’t have a lot of employees, so it makes it easy to know everyone's personal life,” Ruxlow said. “When you get in, you get hooked. It was real easy to grab a hold of Chris and Kaiden’s situation and get absorbed in it.”
Ruxlow has had family members and friends battle with cancer, including a friend that dealt with leukemia throughout much of his childhood.
“When you’ve got family members and friends who have cancer and the trouble they’re going though … you see it too many times these days,” he said. “To have that bomb dropped on you right before you have a kid, it’s crazy. It’s hard to imagine going through a situation like that.”
Ruxlow said he used to shave his head often and he was due for a haircut regardless.
“It was the least I could do,” he said. “Kaiden comes in here, he’s always got a big smile on his face. That’s not something somebody who had cancer most of their life’s supposed to do. They're supposed to be sick all the time and not joyful, but the kid’s smiling from ear to ear every time he’s in here.”
Jenny said Kaiden smiles every time he hears of another person shaving their head to support him, which also includes another one of Chris’ friends.
“People tell us all the time (Kaiden is) on prayer lists and they ask how he’s doing,” Jenny said, adding the family of five always welcomes prayers.
People’s Bank and Trust also has an account set up for community support.
“It helps knowing people are thinking about him,” she said. “For the most part, Kaiden stays positive because we stay positive.”