Another chance

Published 10:05 am Friday, July 10, 2009

Fourteen-year-old acute lymphoblastic leukemia survivor Marques Kenison would consider himself to be your typical average teenage boy, but his mom thinks differently.

“I think he doesn’t realize how different he is from the average teenager,” said mother, Calandra Kenison. “He is more responsible because his illness forced him to grow up faster, and he just handles life differently.”

When Marques was 4 1/2 years old he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. His mom had dropped him off at day care on her way to work, and not more than a half hour later she received a call from her day care provider explaining something was wrong with Marques.

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When Calandra arrived Marques was extremely pale and complaining about being tired. She immediately took him to the University Medical Center University Medical Center in Tusan, Ariz., where he had blood tests done. Within hours of receiving the results, Marques started blood infusions. During the process, his body rejected the blood.

According to Calandra, the day they were given the news about Marques they were taken to a tiny, white room where there were only tissues on the table, she knew right away the news wasn’t good.

“He was so close to dying,” said Calandra. “We were very lucky to get him there when we did.”

After the diagnosis was made, Marques began a series of chemotherapy treatments he would continue until the age of seven. Although, he has a hard time remembering everything that happened while he was ill, he recalls his best memory was provided to him by the Make A Wish Foundation. Make A Wish gave the Kenison’s a fully funded Disney Cruise to the Bahamas, so they could feel like everything was right in the world.

“The Make A Wish Foundation truly does a phenomenal job of taking care of you and making sure you get the best experience out of your vacation,” said Calandra.

It only took two months after beginning chemotherapy for his leukemia to go into remission and to this day he hasn’t had to deal with any relapses, only a few yearly blood tests to make sure everything is normal.

“He just breezed right though everything to the end,” said Calandra. “He did what he needed to do with such a big smile and took it like a man, a little man.”

On Nov. 17, 2005, the family moved to Albert Lea from Phoenix, and at the end of 2007, they moved to Austin for Marques’ dad’s job as the Mower County Sheriff Deputy.

This April, Marques was named the honorary youth co-chairman by the Freeborn County Relay for Life Committee. This is the first time they’ve honored a youth survivor.

“It’s exciting that I got chosen,” said Marques. “They didn’t have to choose me, but they did, they chose me over someone else.”

Last year, Marques walked at Relay for Life at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds. He took one lap around with his mom and then another lap around with his three siblings to try to find his luminary. He also received a bracelet with orange beads on it, resembling leukemia and he can be found wearing it everyday. Marques said it is a constant reminder that he is lucky to be alive today.

This year, his hopes are to put a team together of people from the Crossroads Evangelical Free’s youth group.

“I know now after everything that I don’t have to feel alone because God is always around,” said Marques. “And I’m so glad God saved my life to give me a second chance in the world.”