Jason Overman is home in Utah.
The 6-year-old Orem cancer patient flew with his parents to Salt Lake International Airport Wednesday afternoon, and was taken to Primary Children's Medical Center."Jason has been grinning for days - ever since they told him he was coming home," Lorraine Hill, Jason's aunt, said. Jason and his parents had hoped to return to Utah last week, but the trip was delayed until the boy's fever dropped.
Jason wore a sterile mask for protection and clutched a stuffed baby kangaroo as he was wheeled into the airport. A cancer organization gave him the toy because kangaroos only jump forward, and they hope the young cancer patient will do the same.
Jason was diagnosed in February as having neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer that attacks the nerves. After his parents' insurance company refused to pay for a bone-marrow transplant _ Jason's best chance for survival _ Utahns organized fund-raisers that brought in $192,000. The money paid for the Aug. 18 procedure that transferred marrow to Jason from his 17-year-old sister.
Jason will continue to receive antibiotics, antifungal drugs, platelets and steroids to speed his recovery. Steroids are used to treat graph-versus-host disease, a condition that results when transplanted marrow rejects its new body. Doctors say the symptoms should fade away over time.
But for now, Jason is enjoying the balloons and a banner prepared by family members to welcome him "home" to Salt Lake City. Jason is expected to stay at Primary Children's Medical Center for about a week, then be "quarantined" in his Orem home for several months while his immune system strengthens. His visitors will be limited to immediate family members for the next few months.
"He is already talking about going to Lake Powell," said Keren Morton, another of Jason's aunts. "It will be a while before that happens. Jason's illness has made him so vulnerable, we are just taking one day at a time."
Jason traded masked kisses with siblings before he was whisked to the hospital. The mask could barely contain his smile as he waited in his family's truck and looked at a threatening Utah sky. But the weather held until Jason and his relatives divided and left the airport. After all he has been through, Utah didn't dare rain on Jason's parade.