‘The best news’: Mississippi child is cancer free!

Published 7:45 am Thursday, May 18, 2023

Melissa Calhoun couldn’t wait to share “the best news I could ask for,” which she received on Wednesday afternoon in the all too familiar Memphis hospital that had been treating her three-year-old son Watson since January.

“We found out he is in remission. He is cancer free,” she said.

Four months ago, Melissa had taken her son to Baton Rouge, La., with what she thought was a bad case of strep throat and dehydration. She found out he had a brain tumor. Bad news became worse as they learned cancer spread throughout his brain and across his spinal cord, top to bottom.

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After learning about the tumor, Watson was immediately taken to the Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and wouldn’t return home until April 3. In that time he endured surgeries to remove the tumor and place a shunt in his brain to drain excess spinal fluid into his stomach, months of chemo and radiation treatments.  He had been home since then, enjoying time with friends at the 2023 Relay For Life event in Vidalia, the Adams County Sheriff’s Rodeo and being almost his usual, playful and happy self, Melissa said.

“He has his moods from radiation and chemo, and that is to be expected,” she said.

They returned to Memphis Monday to undergo more tests that would reveal the good news.

Melissa said they are still waiting for the results of a lumbar puncture test to determine if there are any active cancer cells that could cause a recurrence. As of right now, Watson is cancer free, but he still has a long road ahead, she said.

“Four more months of chemo will get rid of leftover scar tissue spots on his spine and hopefully prevent cancer going forward,” she said. “He still has a long road ahead. The chemo is tiring and it’s the strongest he can get for his age.”

He will have two more checkups halfway through and at the end of his chemo treatment, then his hospital visits would be reduced to every three months and then once a year unless things change.  The family plans to return home Friday.

“There are no words to describe it,” she said at the thought of coming home with Watson, now cancer free. “God has healed him and it’s the best news I could ask for.”

Since his diagnosis, friends and strangers from the Miss-Lou and beyond have donated money and sent cards, texts and phone calls hoping Watson would get better and wanting to support Melissa and her family.

“The outpouring of love and support is not something I can fully comprehend,” Melissa said. “The community has been the absolute best with all of their love, support, prayers, calls, texts and just wanting to help from strangers. It’s the best thing I could witness and it’s definitely life-changing. I can’t thank everyone enough.”