Christmas a respite for Fayetteville family

Posted December 26, 2011 5:29 p.m. EST
Updated December 27, 2011 6:21 p.m. EST

— For a Fayetteville family fighting two cancer diagnoses, the Christmas season is a chance at normalcy. Collin and Patrick Henry are just two little boys, laughing and playing with their Xbox 360.

Kathleen Henry knows the struggle of year-round care-giving. Her son, Collin, now 5, was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2. Then in October 2010, cancer also struck his brother Patrick, now 7. It was hepatoblastoma, a rare childhood cancer that originates in the liver.

Patrick's cancer was high-risk. There were tear-filled treatments at the North Carolina Cancer Hospital at UNC. "Patrick's doing great," his mom said.

Collin's cancer went into remission and even his doctors were not worried about him, Kathleen Henry said.

Then, in August, he had a relapse. "It's like a slap in the face," Kathleen Henry said.

For awhile, he had to undergo steroid-pulse therapy. Now he's back to making weekly trips to the UNC hospital, enduring spinal tap treatments and chemotherapy.

After a recent trip to the hospital, the family came home to find that Christmas had come in the form of an anonymous gift-giver.

"There were six boxes of gifts on the front porch and on Christmas Eve, three more boxes," Kathleen Henry said.

Presents came from strangers in distant places. "We had them come from Rhode Island, Missouri, Florida, Pennsylvania," she said.

 Also Christmas Eve, a $100 check arrived from a man in Cary.

For Patrick and Collin, the cornucopia yields just one conclusion. "Best Christmas ever," the boys exclaimed.