Not many of us think about an eight year-old needing kidney dialysis, but that is the case for Carter Franklin, a cancer patient at Primary Children’s Medical Center. Fluid created from his cancerous tumor and the chemotherapy has made dialysis a temporary requirement. The good news is the chemo is working and his tumors are shrinking!

On April 2, Carter reached home at about 1:30 a.m., after being at the hospital for treatment, to find a surprise. His room was completely transformed! His room had new carpet, new paint, a football mural, new nightstands and an awesome headboard signed by all the students who attend Kanab Elementary, Middle and High Schools. The headboard was constructed by Jerry Hutchings and is beautiful in design and color.

As if that wasn’t enough, community members and students showed up to do some spring-cleaning and landscaping so Carter would have a nice yard to play in when he feels better.

“Our yard looks better than ever. Our house now has new rain gutters out back and a great concrete pad was poured that will be perfect for our BBQ grill,” said Carter’s father Rob Franklin. “Everyone has been so amazing and we are so grateful for all the monetary, in-kind donations and other forms of help we have had since Carter got sick.”

While at Primary Children’s April 17-20, Carter started the Lumbar Puncture Chemo treatment. It takes 30 minutes to inject the chemo into the fluid around Carter’s spinal cord. This is followed up with two shots a day for at least five days and then end with the Lumbar treatment again.

Right before leaving for the trip for this special chemotherapy, the Franklin family was presented with over $2100 collected by Carter’s classmates at KES with the help of the staff, parents and others in the community. The kids named the project ‘Coins For Carter’ and $1900 of the $2100 was actually made up in coins!

Carter’s grandma, Laurie Franklin, is usually not far from his side. She has watched with amazement, along with Carter’s parents Rob and Starla, as the community has rallied around her grandson. “I want to personally tell everyone how much we love and appreciate them for the many ways that they have helped Carter and all of us get thru this. What a terrific community we live in and to help so unselfishly is such a true blessing of having a great neighborhood and community.”

Carter’s body seemed to tolerate his last chemo treatment well. He hasn’t been as physically ill as before. He has even been able to get out into the sunshine a bit, a small luxury that used to be taken for granted.

The hardest part about being home is when Carter’s white blood cell count is low the family has to limit visitors for fear of Carter picking up and germs that may make him sick and hinder his treatment.

“Turning the kids who have come to visit away just breaks my heart,” said Carter’s mother, Starla Franklin. “An infection at this point could be devastating to his health, so we have to be very careful. Even a fever could land Carter in the hospital unnecessarily. I know when his body is better able to fight germs, Carter will love to have visitors again.”

As of May 7, Carter’s white blood cell count was still very low, so he could not travel to Primary Children’s Medical Center for what the doctors hoped to be his last chemo treatment. Carter was feeling well in spite of the low count and rested until time for the long drive between Kanab and Salt Lake City. This was only a minor setback.

Carter and his dad left for Primary Children’s Medical Center on May 15 with every hope this would be the last trip for a long while. After arriving, Carter’s feeding tube, that has helped keep him nourished while the chemo and its side effects left him unable to eat normally, was removed. Carter had gained five pounds and was able to eat again, proving this to his doctors by eating steak, a ham sandwich and chicken nuggets. 

This departure came just before a big boost from the community who helped the Franklin family emotionally and financially. Friends and neighbors hosted a fundraiser on May 16 at Kanab High School where the Hip Hop group Kalamity performed, along with local dancers from Red Rock Dance and Revolutions Dance. Carter’s classmates, friends, neighbors, family and strangers all turned out. The KHS auditorium was filled almost to capacity, all in support of Carter and his recovery. The performance by Kalamity was awesome, a real treat for those who love the art of dance.

The most touching part was the youth in attendance. They entered the door, some eagerly, some solemnly, some cheerfully, and all willingly gave donations ranging from a handful of change to crumpled up dollar bills or well-pressed larger bills that had obviously been saved over time. The girls in Carter’s class, who are part of the local dance groups, performed with greater meaning that night.

What huge life lessons the children have learned about illness, grief, worry, the spirit of giving and the power of love!

Carter’s grandma Laurie expressed the family’s feelings in a short written message after the Kalamity event. “We (the family) planned on getting up and saying a few words to let everyone know how grateful we are, but we were so overwhelmed and emotional that none of us could. I hope everyone will understand and know how truly thankful we are.”

To keep up on Carter’s progress, visit www.caringbridge.org/visit/carterfranklin, a website where family and friends can stay updated about a loved one’s serious medical condition. Visitors can also leave messages of support. All messages are read by Carter on a daily basis and have been a great source of strength.