Community rallies for kids with cancer

Published: Monday, April 30 2012 9:00 p.m. MDT

"All the support makes me feel so happy and loved," says Lexe. Then a moment later, she grows pensive. "It also feels unfair. There are so many others up here who have the same disease and don't get the same attention."

Ironically, one floor below her is another Alta student. Porter Thorkelson, a freshman, was admitted to the hospital three weeks ago. He had a swollen ankle that didn't look like normal swelling to his father. The X-rays revealed bone cancer in his lower right leg. After visiting Lexe, I stopped by Porter's room and he looked and felt miserable after enduring the latest round of chemo. The family has pretty much accepted the fact that he will have the leg amputated from the mid-calf rather than take a chance on the disease reoccurring. His parents, Jared and Mary, believe they will see their son ride his snowboard again with the new leg.

The Thorkelsons also have been amazed at the community support. The athletic teams wore the color blue in his honor (the school colors are black and silver). Some athletes have worn blue tape on one arm and orange on the other, initialed with PT and LS after the two classmates who are battling cancer.

Porter's friends and classmates have shaved their heads for him. The Thorkelson's blog and a Facebook page have been bombarded with well-wishers.

(For me, there is a personal connection to Porter. When my father was hospitalized last fall — and later, after he died — it was Porter who took care of the yard as if it were his own, and when I tried to pay him, he refused it repeatedly.)

Jared sounds much like Lexe when he notes, "It seems unfair to see all the support he gets and see so many others up here and wonder if they get the same support."

Email: drob@desnews.com