Benton Evening News Article

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By Phil Knapper
Benton Evening News
Thu Oct 29, 2009, 01:55 PM CDT
Benton, Ill. –

Bennett Page was able to go on a once in a lifetime trip to Alaska last month as part of a trip sponsored by Hunt of a Lifetime, a non-profit organization for kids under the age of 21 with life threatening diseases.

Page, 15, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on February 20, 2007 — his 13th birthday. He has undergone extensive chemotherapy for 15 months and cranial radiation. He will undergo chemotherapy treatment until July of next year.

But on September 8, Page and his family — mother Cindy, father Sid, and brother Hamilton — traveled 3,500 miles to Chisana, Alaska, a small settlement between two mountains in the wilderness of Alaska.
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“A little plane flew us in there,” Page said. “The closest road is 100 miles away. The people that live there are in the middle of nowhere between two mountains.”

Page, an avid hunter, was on the lookout for a moose when the hunting expedition started.

“I picked moose hunting because I wanted to go somewhere I would probably never go in my life and Alaska is pretty far away,” Page said. “And I chose to hunt moose because most go for elk and it was something different.”

Page and his father went out on the hunt with guide Amber Lee Dibble of Pioneer Outfitters.
“It was different that hunting here,” Page said. “You really didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn. We slept in and took off about 11 a.m. and rode until it got dark and we went back to camp.”

The first couple of days, Page saw four timberwolves, but no grizzlies.

“We saw some timberwolves, and you can shoot four in Alaska,” he said. “But they were too far away to shoot.”

The rest of the hunt was spent stalking a moose to see if it was large enough to shoot.

“We saw it and we stalked it, but when we would get close, it would run away,” Page said. “We got about 20 yards from another moose that dad heard rubbing against a tree, but it was just a baby. It still weighed around 1,300 pounds, though.”

The group then circled its tracks and found the original moose again.

“My dad was up on a hill watching it and telling us which way it was moving,” Page said. “There were a lot of pine trees and bushes around which made it hard to move.”

When the moose got into an open spot, Page was able to fire.

“I laid my gun on a dead tree and put it on him,” said Page. “I hit him in the heart with the first shot and hit in the same spot with the second shot.”

The moose fell on the third shot.

“I was excited when I shot it, but I like hunting myself better than with a guide,” he said. “I think making your own choices leads to success and I like to put my stand where I want to when I deer hunt and doing it myself.

“But it was a really cool experience,” he said. “The mountains, the snow … everything was cool.”
In all, Page hunted for 10 days and was in Alaska for 12 days.

The moose head and shoulder mount were shipped to a taxidermist and Page will get to pick it up in the spring.

“I am going to a taxidermy convention in Springfield in March to pick it up,” Page said. “Then I will probably put it in my room.”

For more information on the Hunt of A Lifetime organization, you can visit its web site at

Tina Pattison, President and founder of HOAL, was inspired to start the organization after her stepson Matt’s wish to hunt moose in Canada was turned down. Matt passed away from battling cancer in 1999 and Pattison is determined to continue on his dream and love for hunting to other children with life threatening diseases. The organization will provide 80 children with a hunting/fishing dreams this year.

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Posted by Cindy on October 29th, 2009 in Sports, Updates | 2 Comments

October 28th update

It’s been a good week. Bennett has been keeping busy with something to do every night. Tonight, he had open gym to shoot around for basketball. He said, “Oh boy I am out of shape. I am going to have to start eating better and working out.”

He hung out with his Lindy for a bit and than went to a friends house to stay all night since no school tomorrow or Friday. He is looking forward to sleeping in. I pick up his report card tomorrow during school time and meet with his teachers. Hamilton only gets out on Friday.

The high school today had a blood drive. We heard they did very well. Bennett’s girlfriend works in the nurses office and worked at the blood drive all day. She wants to be a nurse, pretty special.

We continue to pray that Bennett stays healthy, no flu and he stays in remission forever!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Phillippians 4:6

Posted by Cindy on October 28th, 2009 in Updates | Comments Off on October 28th update

October 27th update

Bennett is doing good. It’s already Tuesday and time for him to take his weekly dose of the chemo methotrexate which is 9 pills. This is still 75% of his treatment plan.

His Dr. hasn’t increased it for several months because of his high liver levels and his ANC still being close to their acceptable range. Abnormal liver function levels are a common side effect to the methotrexate. Another side effect that I didn’t remember is sensitive to sunlight or photo sensitive. (this may explain why Bennett shuts his eyes often while taking his picture)

He finished his dosage of steroid pills on Saturday that he took twice a day for five days which was a total of 35 pills. The steroids has several side effects especially since he has been taking them so long. We pray constantly that his bones are stronger and he won’t have anymore fractures.

He still continues to take the chemo (6mp) mercaptopurine every night from 1 1/2 pills to 2 pills. He is supposed to take it on an empty stomach which is sometimes hard to do especially after taking steroids, he eats several times a day.

We went to the movies tonight to see Cloudy, With A Chance of Meatballs. It was a cute kids movie. My nephew Drew went with us, Bennett and his girlfriend and Hamilton.

Speaking of Girlfriends…. Bennett has been seeing someone for about three weeks and we really like her. Her name is Lindy. Bennett is extremely happy therefore so are we! Below is pics of them this weekend.


Posted by Cindy on October 27th, 2009 in Updates | Comments Off on October 27th update

October 26th update

Bennett is doing Great! Amen! He had a super weekend! He said yesterday was the best Sunday he has had in a very long time. I am so thankful to see him happy and being able to enjoy life.

Yesterday he went to Sunday school and church. He came home and cleaned his ducks which he wanted to do by himself. He says he is going to cook them by himself this weekend.

He worked outside for a couple hours with his Dad. I thought he would complain but he was glad to be outside and as he said, “doing man’s work” (nailing tin to the top of a shed). He went to a friends house late afternoon to hang out and than a friend (girl) came over so he was busy all day.

He really is feeling good. We are so thankful and happy that the flu bug is staying away! We count are blessings daily!

Tonight we all went to the taxidermist that will be doing Bennett’s mount for his moose. He does all the Illinois Hunt of A Lifetime and he lives in McLeansboro. The Illinois Taxidermy Association will hold a conference in March where they will invite Bennett and tell of his story and present him with his moose head/horns mounted. Pretty Cool!

Thank you for checking in. We pray you and your family are staying healthy.

Posted by Cindy on October 26th, 2009 in Updates | 3 Comments

Duck Hunting

Bennett got up at 2:00 a.m. and went duck hunting with Bob, Scott and Mason at Shelbyville which is about 2 hours away. He had a great time. It’s youth season and him and Mason got five ducks total. The Red Head is an unusual duck that is hard to find and they got three. Also, a blue teel and shoveler. There was a duck flying by and Bennett looked up and shot and got it! I think everyone including Bennett was surprised.

Duck Hunting is his favorite type of hunting. He has been practicing all summer his duck calls and he really does sound like a duck!


Posted by Cindy on October 24th, 2009 in General, Updates | Comments Off on Duck Hunting

October 22nd update

Bennett is still doing good. I was worried the other night as he had a headache and said he didn’t feel very good. Not sure if it’s what he ate or teenager mood swing but it didn’t last too long.

We pray every night that he will not get this horrible flu bug going around. He told me the other day, you know Mom, I am going to get it eventually and there no need to worry. I stressed to him though that we can continue to try and that will make a difference. It’s hard not to go crazy with all the hyped up media giving you all the horror stories.

We do feel safer since he got the flu shot even if it’s for the regular flu and supposedly the regular flu isn’t going around yet. When the H1N1 shot comes out, we all will get that too.

It’s in God hands and we trust him and are assured that Bennett will be healthy and safe. It’s the rest of us, we should be worried about, LOL

“The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in Him.” Nahum 1:7

Posted by Cindy on October 22nd, 2009 in Updates | 1 Comments

October 20th update

Bennett’s appt went good today! His Dr. thought he grew inches! Bennett was disappointed to tell her, “Nope, I haven’t even grown a centimeter.”

The Dr. was okay with his liver and kidney levels but she didn’t want to increase his chemo pills because she didn’t want them getting any higher. She also thought his ANC was just a little high (prefers 1,500 and his was 2,100) but she was okay with it being there. I of course like it a little higher because of having more white blood cells to fight off infection but just praying that the chemo is doing it’s job.

He had his breathing treatment today to prevent pneumonia, an iv push of chemo called vincristine, and had an infusion of the antibodies called immune globulin.

We were so happy to find out today that Bennett can get the flu shot! The oncology clinic researched and decided it was more beneficial for the patients to get it And the shot is an inactive influenza so they are not actually giving a “live” vaccine. The nose influenza vaccine is a live virus. The shot will take 2 weeks to actually begin working.

We are so thankful that he will be protected now. We worked thru a few minor details and long story short, was able to get the flu vaccine from the outpatient pharmacy and than have his nurse in the clinic give it.

I was worried because as soon as I found out he could get it, I started calling his pediatrician and clinics in southern Illinois and everyone is out of the flu shot. Several hope and are waiting for vaccine to be delivered later this month.

We pray that Bennett doesn’t get the flu in the next two weeks. And hopefully if he does get it, it will be later and having the shot will help with a milder case.

St Louis’ opinion today was that the type A influenza is the swine flu. the flu shot should help keep the flu to a milder case. The tamiflu prescription is not a cure to the flu, it will only help with the symptoms and possibly help you feel better a little sooner.

Praying for good health for everyone!

Posted by Cindy on October 20th, 2009 in Updates | 1 Comments

October 19th update

Bennett is still doing good! Amen! He went to youth group last night at church and than tonight he went to the sophomore football game at Herrin.

I’m really looking forward to spending tomorrow with him as we go to his Dr. appt in St. Louis. It’s great quality time for us to talk especially since school has started, he hasn’t been home as much. We leave home at 6:30 a.m.

I plan on asking the Dr.’s opinion we can do anything else of keeping Bennett protected from all of this sickness going around. We’re especially worried about the swine flu and it’s complications. More cases are going around in our area.

I have heard some Dr.’s in our area are going ahead with the H1N1 test when the child tests positive to the regular flu test. It takes up to 3 days to get the results back from the state.

Bennett is still taking vitamin C about 500 mg daily. He also is continuing to take the calcium supplement to help strengthen his bones.

Hamilton did not go to school today since he still had a low grade fever yesterday. He really should be fever free for 24 hours and so far today it has been normal. We are so thankful this wasn’t any worse and Ham is feeling much better. And that he tested negative for the flu!

“Continue to live in Christ Jesus, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7

Posted by Cindy on October 19th, 2009 in Updates | Comments Off on October 19th update

October 18th update

Hamilton is feeling much better. He is still running a low grade fever most of the day. He hasn’t laid down much though. Once he got up this morning, he has been going ever since. He was getting cooped up so he went outside and rode the four wheeler around. The only other symptom he has now besides the low fever is coughing. So I really do think it was viral. If he really had the flu, he would be down a lot longer.

Hamilton takes tamiflu twice a day for three more days. Hamilton even asked why do I have to take the flu pill if I don’t have it? We are going to cautious and be on the safe side.

Bennett is doing Great. He feels really good. He slept for about 11 hours last night and this morning. And that’s with about a 3 hour nap yesterday. He needs plenty of rest that helps keep sickness away.

We hope and pray that everyone is healthy and isn’t too miserable with all of this sickness going around.

“Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.” Daniel 12:3

Posted by Cindy on October 18th, 2009 in Updates | Comments Off on October 18th update

October 17th update

Bennett’s ANC today was 2,100 with 3.5 WBC and 60 neutrophils which is good! His hemoglobin is 12.4 and platelets are 236. His creatinine level is high which is his kidneys. Also, liver levels were still high at 122 and 328 which is lower than last time but still way above normal. We’ll see what the Dr. says Tuesday about them. The chemo pills he takes causes this.

Bennett had a good day. He went fishing with our friend Bob and they caught about 60 crappie and bass at Rend Lake. It was pretty chilly early this morning. He had a great time!

Hamilton had a 102 temp this morning. He had a headache, cough, sore throat, back & stomach ache, and chills too. I took him to our pediatrician and he did the influenza (A) test and it came back Negative! Yeah! He said it’s not 100% accurate though so he went ahead and prescribed tamiflu to be safe around Bennett. It also might be viral.

The Dr. indicated that they have been directed by the health dept to not test for H1N1. That if you have a positive A flu test than treat it the same. The H1N1 test is very expensive and not that accurate is why they aren’t doing that specific test. Our Dr. said there has been alot of flu cases and also strep throat.

Please pray that Bennett doesn’t get sick. I have been so worried about Bennett getting something from school and public places and now worried about home. Hamilton has been very good by wearing a mask and staying in his room. I think we are using every type of Lysol product you can buy.

Posted by Cindy on October 17th, 2009 in Updates | Comments Off on October 17th update

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