Jayme recalls the date vividly — Dec. 12, 2012 — when they found that what was initially thought to be a relatively small matter causing a swollen cheek for her son, but turned out instead to be cancer.
There were fears it was leukemia, or maybe it would turn out to be something as mundane as mono, but they found it was something quite insidious.
It turned into a journey no child, nor parent, would ever expect to endure.
Maverick has undergone numerous medical procedures from the initial biopsy to the implantation of an infusa-a-port. Chemotherapy was started right after Christmas 2012, and several rounds of it cost him his hair, and of course, the resulting side effects sometimes seemed worse than the illness itself.
He had a tumor, located above the adrenal gland, removed. He had stem cell transplants at OU Children’s Hospital and several rounds of immunotherapy.
Maverick had to have his stem cells harvested twice, his mom explained in a recent email. Each harvesting took several hours. He had to have external catheters inserted into his shoulder that were attached to a machine that “sucked out his blood, shot it through a centrifuge that separated it into different components and reinserted what wasn’t needed,” as Jayme described it.
‘He’s our captain’
It was during this time in the hospital in OKC, the NOC Tonkawa team first visited Maverick after playing a game in the area.
“Each of the boys (on the team) brought candy and toys, and a few of them gave our Maverick something of sentimental value to them,” Jayme said. “One gave him some rosary beads that his grandmother had given him. The guys were so good to Maverick.”
“It was a growing point for our guys,” Ballard said. “He’s our captain. We have a picture of him we took with us on our bus for every trip.”
There have been get-togethers with Maverick by the Mavericks on the road, including a trip last year when the Mavs played at Carl Albert in Poteau, near Maverick’s home in Stigler. The team gave him a red (team color) remote control car they signed. The Carl Albert team signed a ball and presented it to him.
But the biggest moment in his recovery was saved for last season’s final game in Tonkawa against rival NOC Enid.