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Easing a hospital stay Scout collects DVDs to entertain fellow cancer sufferers

Posted on: 05/01/2003

Easing a hospital stay Scout collects DVDs to entertain fellow cancer sufferers

By LISA DAYLEY South Idaho Press

PAUL - After so many stays at the LDS Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, 14-year-old Kenneth Pollard had seen all the movies in the Immuno Compromised Services (ICS) unit.

At the hospital, Kenneth has undergone both radiation and chemotherapy hoping to destroy multiple brain tumors.

While undergoing cancer treatment, Pollard often watched the ICS unit's videos.

"I think we watched every single movie they had," said Pollard's mother Nancy.

Children in the ICS unit suffer from weakened immune systems and everything brought into the unit has to be sanitized and cleared before children may have contact with it. Because of that, new movies in the ICS unit are in short supply.

"If Kenneth wanted to watch a new movie the hospital got, he couldn't. If it wasn't already on the floor, it couldn't be brought in," Nancy said.

A movie buff himself, Kenneth especially likes war movies.

"He loves the Green Berets with John Wayne," Nancy said.

An active scouter with the Emerson LDS Ward, Kenneth was looking for an Eagle Scout project. Seeing the need to entertain youngsters undergoing cancer treatments, Kenneth opted for a project to provided DVD players and movies for fellow patients on the ICS floor.

While home from the hospital, Pollard, dressed in his full scout uniform, and accompanied by Emerson scout official Wally Blacker and his grandparents Hallie and Sharon Heiner, Kenneth sought donations to purchase DVD equipment and movies. The money raised helped purchase 15 DVDs from Redder's Showcase. Owner Guy Redder sold the equipment to Kenneth at cost.

The ICS unit is made up of 25 rooms, and the Pollard family hopes another prospective Eagle scout will continue where Kenneth left off.

"Another person doing an eagle project could get the DVD players for the other 10 rooms," Nancy said.

Kenneth later told friends, family and members of his congregation he was collecting movies.

The response was overwhelming, Nancy said.

"When he got sick, everyone asked 'what can I do?' Because of the Eagle Scout project everybody could do something," she said.

Despite Kenneth's illness, the family believed it was vital to continue with scouts. The Eagle Project provided a much needed diversion from the ongoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Nancy said.

"The Primary Children's Hospital counselors tell us to try and keep their lives as normal as possible," she said.

Kenneth was diagnosed with cancer last August.

"The day we got the diagnosis it was just like a ton of bricks had fallen on me," Nancy said.

With no cancer in the family, Kenneth's diagnosis came as a shock, she said.

"The doctors told us there was nothing that we did. It was just plain bad luck," Nancy said.

The family is not bitter about what has happened and says it is a part of God's plan.

"I don't feel we're any more picked on than anyone else. I hear and see other people who face tremendous challenges. Some are mental, physical and emotional. It's just a part of life. We all learn from whatever challenges we have. The whole test is how well we're going to handle it. Kenneth handles his with such grace. He said he's learned a lot of patience and a lot about faith," Nancy said.

He has not complained about his illness.

"Kenneth never says 'why me?' He doesn't whine about it," she said.

Nancy suspected Kenneth was ill while watching him pass the sacrament at church. At the time, Nancy noticed Kenneth seemed a little unbalanced, she said.

"I asked him afterwards 'why are you walking like a drunk man?'" she recalled.

The family attributed Kenneth's sluggishness to moving pipe. The exercise frequently left him tired and dizzy. Yet, following church that Sunday , Kenneth suffered more dizzy spells. The following Wednesday Nancy took Kenneth to the doctor who ordered an MRI which showed the tumors. Primary Children's Hospital was immediately notified, and the following Monday Kenneth was whisked to the hospital where he had surgery.

Complications from surgery set in after Kenneth developed spinal meningitis, an inflammation of the brain or spinal cord. It is caused by bacteria often resulting from trauma. Cancer treatments were put on hold while doctors fought the infection.

Kenneth has undergone several chemotherapy treatments none of which have helped reduced the size of the tumors. The family is in the process of pursuing other available chemotherapy treatments. Because of a recent round of therapy, Kenneth was unable to be interviewed for this article.

Nancy draws on her strong Mormon faith to help her handle her son's illness. She finds regular Sunday attendance and daily prayer heals her spirit.

"It's refreshing and helps me get through the next day," she said.

Nancy is grateful to her parents for helping her tend to Kenneth as well as her two daughters Sarah, 12, and Anne, 8.

Pollard's employer Swensen's Food and Drug, of Paul, has also bent over backwards to help, she said.

"They have been absolutely wonderful. They have given me a lot of time off for trips to the hospital. If I need to work four 10-hour days that's fine. They let me write my own schedule," she said.

When he is not undergoing cancer treatments, Kenneth is like any other 14-year-old boy, Nancy said. He especially likes making creations with Legos.

"He's very artistic," Nancy said.

Kenneth also enjoys the computer and loves to play soccer. In the sixth and seventh grades he played the drums in the school band.

Someday Kenneth would like to be an engineer.

"He's very good at math, and he loves science. He's a smart kid. I've always told him to make a lot of money so he can take care of me when I'm old," Nancy said.

As for his Eagle Scout project, Kenneth is happy to provide entertainment for Primary Children's Hospital patients, she said.

"He just felt good that he was helping so many patients and their families have entertainment. That was just a good feeling to him," she said.

Published April 13, 2003

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