On February 25, Josh Rowe and his parents, Joe and Mari, came to the Blank Children's Hospital Oncology Clinic to determine why Josh was experiencing severe pain in his lower back. By 11:00 a.m., Josh was diagnosed with B-cell Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), by 2:00 p.m., he received his first chemotherapy treatment and by 8:00 p.m., Josh knew he would need treatment for the next three-and-a-half years.
Leukemia is cancer of blood cells, and specifically, ALL is cancer of the lymphocytes, or a type of white blood cell. Acute means once the disease begins, it quickly worsens, making immediate treatment a necessity.
The 14-year-old responded to the diagnosis determined not to let the cancer control his life. Josh would not even let his parents worry.
"He came over and wiped my tears and said, 'Mom, we got this'," Mari said. "He hugged his dad, saying, 'We'll get through this Dad'!"
Blank Children's has been with the Rowe's every step of the way.
"There really aren't words to express the gratitude we feel toward the doctors, nurses and the entire staff at Blank Children's that have cared for Josh over the last several months," Mari said.
Despite his vigorous treatments, Josh continues to do the things he loves. He was recently named Iowa's fundraising student of the year by the Leukemia Foundation for raising $1,100 in change for Southeast Polk's Leukemia & Lymphoma Pennies for Patients fundraiser. In addition, Josh is a member of the Cancer Connection Teen Group and Club Hope, but his passion is farming.
With help from a couple of friends, Josh was able to show his calf, Moonshine, at the Polk County Fair.
"There was no way of getting Josh out of the fair that day until he showed his calf and was he was smiling the entire time in the ring," Mari said. "I am pretty certain the memory of this fair will be the one that stays in his heart forever."
Josh remains optimistic and determined to beat his cancer. Using courage, humor and support from his family and friends, Josh faces his cancer fearless.
"Josh has never once said, 'Why me?'" Mari said. "Cancer has slowed his body down some but not his mind or his spirits."