By Alan Gionet
ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – The curtains were drawn as we talked to two year old Porter Johnson’s family. Outside, cars pulled up.
Dozens of people were quietly surrounding Porter’s home where his mom had thrown up a string of lights, but then had to stop.
There was too much else to do.
It’s been a pretty rough year for Porter and his family. Sometimes he’s really knocked down by the chemotherapy for his leukemia. But he’s still buoyant.
“Sometimes he laughs after he throws up,” said his mom Jen Johnson. There’s a puke bucket close by when he’s had his treatments.
Porter is far from done with a fight that started in the middle of this year.
“We gave him subcutaneous shots in his arm at home and he got chemo at home every day this week,” said Jen as we talked in their home. “And he got infusions on Tuesday of a new chemo that he’s never had before.”
Doctors say to beat his cancer, he’ll have to be treated for three more years.
“It’s hard,” said Porter’s other mom Sarah Porter.
He spends a lot of time indoors with his immune system ripped down. It’ll be that way for a while.
“For us to send him to day care, he’s going to have half the immune system that a normal person would for the next three years,” said Sarah.
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Porter loves to sing. He likes Elton John most. He’ll sing into a toy microphone along with videos as long as you’ll play them. He loves to dance. There’s a remarkable amount of energy for a little boy with cancer. He’s a treasure to his family and brave.
It’s been tough on everyone in the home. Porter’s brother, eleven-year-old Aiden can’t have friends over a lot of times.
“Sometimes I want to like hang out with my friends but I can’t because they may be sick or something.”
But Aiden is a great brother who looks out for Porter first.
“I play with him and sometimes I eat with him, so he eats too,” said Aiden about ensuring his little brother gets nutrition he needs to fight his cancer.
For Sarah and Jen, it’s always busy with trips to the doctor or chemo treatments at home. “It’s pretty fortunate that he’s as young as he is. Because he bounces right back.”
The expense of a child with cancer is substantial. Jen has health insurance through her work at a hospital, but the deductible is $10,000.
Jen plays hockey and word got around this year that she had a sick kid. The Dawg Nation Foundation stepped in.
“They pretty much covered all of his treatment and a month of our mortgage and groceries. We have nothing to worry about.”
Dawg Nation pulls hockey players together to support others with injury or illness. It has donated more than $1 million to the families of sick or injured hockey players and their families and to the families of those who’ve died.
The people outside were from Dawg Nation. They weren’t done. From their trucks and cars they pulled strings of Christmas lights, extension cords and displays.
Finally the dog’s barking grew to be too much during the interview and Jen and Sarah rose to find out what was up. The doorbell rang. Jen opened the door to see a knot of people.
“Merry Christmas!” The front porch was full of people. “With your permission, we’re going to hang out and put some Christmas lights and decorations up,” said Andy Gerrie. “You guys are awesome,” Jen replied.
Off to work they went.
“I didn’t do much,” said Andy Gerrie of Dawg Nation. “I just put out an email and said ‘Hey, let’s go do this and brighten somebody’s day,’ and look who showed up.”
Gerrie knows what cancer is like. He survived Stage IV colon cancer.
There were guys dressed as elves. One hockey player named Zak Phillips was there too.
“You’ve got a lot going on,” he comforted Jen as she talked about her suspended effort to put up lights.
Porter and Aiden got gifts from the Avalanche; Aiden a stick signed by all the Avalanche players. Porter went in for a while as they finished up. After more than an hour of effort, the sun set and Porter came back out for the big reveal.
The house was bathed in light. They threw up a cheer when the colors spread across the yard.
“You guys are awesome,” said Jen.
Porter stared at the lights in wonder as Aiden led him around. “Merry Christmas,” he shouted to the crowd.
Merry Christmas Porter. Merry Christmas.