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RuVonte McQueen is as cool a kid as his name makes him sound. The 15-year old at Spanaway Lake High School outside Tacoma, WA, is an all-around athlete, a songwriting rapper, and conscientious student. He finished ninth grade with nearly all As and Bs last year, even after missing most of the year's classroom lessons.
When RuVonte had a pain in his side last summer while at track practice, he pushed through it. He thought it was just a cramp. By the time he got home, he was having chest pains. RuVonte went to bed that May night in 2010 determined he didn't need to go to the doctor. But by morning, still in pain, he and his mom, Nicole, headed to the emergency room.
A few hours later, RuVonte's dad, Charles, received a phone call from his wife. "She was crying on the phone," remembers Charles. "I asked her what was wrong and she did not say anything at first. I asked her again what was wrong and she said, 'RuVonte has cancer!' and hung up the phone."
Charles got in the car and raced to Madigan Army Medical Center, where they began chemotherapy right away. RuVonte's white cell count was 187,000; they didn't want to lose any time in treating his newly diagnosed T-cell leukemia.
Now more than a year later, RuVonte is still at the hospital at least once a week. "We have learned to appreciate the nights we get to sleep at home," says Charles, who, while grateful on one hand, would also be very happy if he never had to see another "chair bed" again.
"RuVonte is such a great kid," says Charles of his eldest son, who has been setting a positive example for his younger brothers, ages 11 and 7, since before he was diagnosed with leukemia – and continues to do so. "You really look at the world a lot differently than you did before going through all this," says Charles. "It really makes you appreciate people, relationships, time, love… and just enjoying and cherishing each second for what it is."