SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KFTA) — When Max Blackwell developed a rash on his feet and legs in May 2017, his mother never imagined the diagnosis that was to come.
“It’s a very specific rash that looks like little red pinpoints. It’s called a petechiae rash,” said Max’s mother, Dee Blackwell.
After conducting tests, doctors determined Max had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“I didn’t know what to do. I just knew that I had to be brave and strong because this was going to become my life now,” Max said.
Dee remembers when doctors told her the shocking news.
“[It was] a rug jerked out from under you moment. We cried, were scared, and I wouldn’t even say the word cancer for probably about six weeks,” Max’s mom shared.
The 9-year-old was immediately flown from Fort Smith to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. He underwent eight months of intensive treatment at the hospital before he entered remission. This was about the same time Arkansas Children’s Northwest opened in Springdale.
Now in the maintenance phase of his remission, the 12-year-old primarily receives his care at Arkansas Children’s in Springdale.
Throughout Max’s ongoing journey, his family has chosen to see light in a dark situation. While the Blackwell’s are happy to have care closer to home, Dee said they valued the long car trips to Little Rock.
“We’ve had a lot of family time we would not have had otherwise,” Dee shared.
It’s this glass-half-full outlook that has helped the family stay strong during this trying time. Now, there’s an end in sight.
Come August 2020, Max will receive his last cancer treatment. He said there’s one thing he’s looking forward to most: “… being able to say that I’m not on treatments and I’m in remission and count up the years since this life-threatening devastation.”
Until then Max is keeping busy. Not only is he conquering the sixth-grade, but he’s also serving as an ambassador for Arkansas Children’s. He said he wants to make sure other kids who are battling pediatric cancer to know, they too will get through it.
“Don’t be afraid because it’s not that hard of a thing as it seems, Max explained. “It goes through quicker than you might think because I started two years ago, yet here I am just fine and going through treatments.”