Caleb Eide of Chatfield is shown above in a collage of photos from his CaringBridge journal. At left, Caleb assumes the role of doctor to check the health of his visitors, at center, he poses for a photo with his mom, Crystal Eide, and, at right, smiles for the camera, showing his loveable, spunky self.
Caleb Eide of Chatfield is shown above in a collage of photos from his CaringBridge journal. At left, Caleb assumes the role of doctor to check the health of his visitors, at center, he poses for a photo with his mom, Crystal Eide, and, at right, smiles for the camera, showing his loveable, spunky self.
Caleb Eide of Chatfield has a healthy birthday wish of meeting the "Big Cheese" when he celebrates his sixth birthday on March 11.

Caleb's mother, Crystal, explained that she doesn't know yet if that wish will come true on his actual birthday or if he will have to wait until he's out of the hospital for his special party.

Caleb has been in the hospital, bravely dealing with leukemia since Feb. 6.

"He has been asking for a Chucky Cheese birthday party for three years and has yet to get one," Crystal said. "Before he got sick, I had already promised him a Chucky Cheese party for his sixth birthday, so whether it's on the 11th or sometime after we leave, I guarantee that his wish will come true and he'll get to meet Chucky."

According to his CaringBridge journal, which Crystal began on Feb. 11, Caleb had been ill with a cold since before Christmas, but his immune system didn't seem willing to fight it, as was the case when he got the flu in mid-January. She explained Caleb never seemed to bounce back after that point.

Crystal wrote, "He just always seemed to be so exhausted and I guess I just chalked it up to being worn out from being back in school full-time again after the long Christmas break. On January 28, I couldn't take it any longer and set up an appointment with the family doctor."

Caleb was tested for a few different health problems, but the doctor found no clear results, and as the weeks went by, Crystal noted her son was having a hard time getting out of bed for school, so she asked his teacher to keep an eye on his behavior.

"Then there was a week stretch where Caleb started to voluntarily take naps and we all know that no 5-year-old is willing to do that, especially day after day after day," she recalled.

Crystal was certain Caleb had mononucleosis, so she brought him back to the doctor on Feb. 6 for testing.

"We left the doctor's office and got home around 5:30 p.m. that evening. I don't think we were even home for more than 20 minutes when I received the worst phone call of my life," she added.

The doctor had called and reported he had some results back from Caleb's blood test and his white blood cell count was extremely high and his hemoglobin was extremely low, which show signs of leukemia.

The doctor referred the family to Saint Marys immediately and Caleb was admitted to the hospital that night.

"Our lives definitely changed in that moment," Crystal added.

The next two days were a rush of activity to assert whether or not Caleb's blood was indeed a battle zone - with the white blood cells working overtime to quash the cancerous cells. He had a spinal tap, blood transfusions and his first chemotherapy, and then he rested, though he couldn't resist becoming "Dr. Caleb" when visitors came to his room - he conducted his own "tests" on anyone willing to hold still for an examination or a tap of the reflex hammer.

Crystal wrote, "The doctors officially diagnosed Caleb with pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or pre-B ALL. The doctors did share with me that this is the 'better' leukemia to get and the most curable."

Over the next weeks, he was given more chemotherapy, and according to his mother in a Feb. 14 journal entry, "Things seem pretty up and down...one minute he's playing, and the next minute, he's laid up in bed with either nausea or fatigue."

Because he'd been in the hospital since Feb. 6 and not gone home, after the visitors were gone, Crystal felt it necessary to explain to her son exactly why he had been there so long, so she enlisted the assistance of a children's cancer counselor who showed Caleb what the three kinds of blood cells do, using macaroni noodles, red hot candies, mini marshmallows and cookie sprinkles, with the noodles representing leukemia cells.

"It's been hard for him to understand why they are making him take medicine day in and day out, so I think this maybe helped, at least a little, I hope."

Crystal related that her son is an active, social being, so missing school in Ms. Overland's class at Chatfield Elementary School has been disappointing to him, but he has thoroughly enjoyed the family visitors who have come to see him.

"Caleb really likes school and loves being able to see his friends every day, she said. "He loves to play with all of his cousins - he says even his baby cousins, too. He loves to go swimming, play any kind of ball, golf, and basically anything that keeps him active. He says that he misses seeing his friends at school every day and playing baseball with his friends. He hasn't seen any friends from school, but has seen three of his cousins and a family friend."

His kindergarten class sent him handmade cards to hang on his hospital room wall. "All of the cards put a big smile on his face and definitely brightened his day," Crystal added. "When he finished reading all of the cards, he said 'Gosh, they must really miss me,' so I think it made him feel special."

Progress is made in leaps, bounds, back-steps and baby steps, Crystal stated. "Since we've come into the hospital, the number of leukemia cells in his blood has dropped significantly, so the chemo is doing its job. Of course, my biggest fear is that the treatments won't work, but honestly the idea doesn't really cross my mind anymore because of how well he has reacted to the chemo thus far. He really is an amazing young boy. We're currently hoping for his neutrophil counts to go up so we can go home for a while. Neutrophils are a big factor in how strong your immune system is. Hopefully, we'll get lucky and be able to go home before his birthday on March 11."

She added, "It's still hard to believe that he has leukemia, and it just doesn't make sense to me. He had always been such a strong and active boy, and sometimes even now he acts no different than he did before he got sick. He continues to amaze me with how well he responds, both mind and body, to the chemo treatments. On the other hand, things have become routine, and we just take one day at a time. I would say the most challenging thing is when the chemo seems to get the best of him, but yet he surprises me with his determination to not let the chemo keep him down for a long period of time."

Thankfully, on the night Caleb was admitted to Saint Marys, Crystal met an x-ray technician who was to x-ray Caleb's chest, and in conversation, the technician shared that he had had the same kind of leukemia when he was 7 years old, and having that man standing in front of her, healthy and strong, assured Crystal that Caleb's prognosis has promise.

"They say that the majority of children beat this type of leukemia and go on to live a normal healthy life," she added. "Caleb will continue to receive treatments for three years, and the chance of this type of cancer coming back is not likely once cured."

For now, Crystal would like to let Caleb's immune system recover before welcoming non-family visitors to his hospital room or their home.

She requested, "I'd actually prefer to keep visitors to family members at this time until his neutrophil counts come up since he is at a high risk for infections. Once we are home, I think it would be best if people could call before visiting."

She expressed her gratitude and appreciation to everyone who has done anything for Caleb.

"My family has been so supportive since day one," she said. "There has hardly been a day where someone hasn't come to visit, and they've also been helpful taking care of regular day-to-day chores. The amount of support and prayers we have received from friends, schools, other community members, Mayo Clinic, churches, and even strangers has been unbelievable."

She assured everyone that Caleb is a fighter and that she is 100 percent sure he will get through this battle and live a long, healthy life.

Crystal also expressed gratitude for the special events being held in Caleb's name and said, "I can't thank everyone enough. Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Caleb really is a lovable and funny young boy with so much spunk."