GREENFIELD — When her 17-year-old son Quinton asked for pancakes Wednesday morning, Deena Batton was overjoyed.
The Greenfield teen has been struggling to eat since being admitted to Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis for his second round of chemotherapy on Tuesday, battling the leukemia that turned his life upside down since receiving the diagnosis in mid-September.
The young man who played three years of basketball at Morristown High School will spend much of his senior year in a hospital bed, being administered five different rounds of chemo designed to kill the cancer that threatens his life.
His family celebrated on Tuesday when they got the news that “Q” — as he is known — is in remission.
“If he wasn’t in remission by the end of the second round, they would have scheduled him for a (bone marrow ) transplant,” said his mom, a special education teacher at Greenfield Intermediate School.
Batton is quick to praise God for what she calls a number of blessings that have occurred throughout her son’s journey, like the fact one his brothers is a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant, should one ever become necessary.
She also credits a wide circle of friends, family and strangers who have supported her family in countless ways over the past seven weeks.
On Monday, 26 people turned out at Greenfield Intermediate School to donate 28 units of blood at the Battle with Quinton blood drive, organized by her colleagues at the school.
The blood drive was among the many events that have been planned throughout Hancock and Shelby counties to support his family since Quinton was first diagnosed.
“The outpouring of love and support we’ve gotten has just been indescribable,” said Batton, who has spent most of the week at her son’s bedside.
A Facebook page called “Battle with Quinton” keeps well-wishers posted on his prognosis and progress.
“It has been beautiful to watch this county rally together and support this family,” said Amy Sutton, assistant principal at Greenfield Intermediate School.
A GoFundMe page quickly doubled its goal in donations, raising more than $21,000.
The student council at Morristown High School has been selling yard signs supporting Quinton for $20 each, with proceeds going to the family.
The Hancock County Fraternal Order of Police in Greenfield has also hosted fundraisers.
Last month, the Morristown Boys &Girls Club encouraged vendors at its annual fall carnival to donate proceeds to the Batton family.
Quinton’s mom said there aren’t sufficient words to convey how much the emotional and financial support has been appreciated by the entire family, including her, her husband Bill and their four grown children.
While Quinton is the “baby” of the family as the youngest of five kids, his mom said he’s shown remarkable courage and strength in fighting the illness.
The first signs of trouble started on Aug. 23, when Quinton went in for a physical after showing signs of sickness and fatigue after basketball games.
“He wasn’t feeling real well, but he internalized a lot,” recalled his mom. “We just thought it was adrenaline and nerves.”
The doctor decided to do bloodwork, which led to three weeks of testing to confirm the final diagnosis — leukemia.
Batton got the call confirming the news on Sept. 14, and their lives have been a blur of doctor’s appointments, chemotherapy treatments and hospital stays ever since.
While she spends much of her time with Q in the hospital, Batton often takes to social media to convey the family’s love and gratitude on the Battle with Quinton page on Facebook.
“Thank you for all of your continued love, prayers, and support that you consistently shower us with each moment! We are so incredibly grateful,” she posted last week.
Batton said the support is what sustains her during the especially tough times, when Quinton is vomiting and unable to eat, due to severe mouth sores and esophagus pain caused by the chemo.
“We’ve been seeing more side effects of the chemo this time than we had the first time, so we’re just learning to adjust to that world. He still doesn’t complain about a thing,” she said.
Quinton attended Greenfield-Central schools through eighth grade but transferred to Morristown High School his freshman year to attend school and play basketball with family members.
“When they graduate in May he will have a niece, two cousins and a great cousin graduating with him,” his mom said.
He got to play basketball his freshman year with his older nephew, who was a senior at the time, and a member of the state championship team. Quinton has another nephew who is a junior on the team this year.
Because he’s expected to be in and out of the hospital for the next several months for chemotherapy, he won’t be able to play his senior year, but Batton said the team and the whole school is supporting him every step of the way.
“God is in absolute control, and he’s put every single one of these people who support us in our lives,” she said.
On the day Quinton was admitted to the hospital for his first round of chemo, another young man who had gone through the same treatment — and is now cured — happened to be at the clinic with his dad.
“It was truly a godsend that we had somebody with personal experience — who has been through the same treatment and is cured — to be there to talk to Quinton as he was just starting out on this journey,” his mom said.
She also counts the doctors and nurses at Peyton Manning Hospital as blessings from above.
“They have been nothing short of amazing,” she said on Wednesday, while making her way down the hospital hallways in search of pancakes for her son.
“We continue to find so much strength in knowing that we are never alone in this journey. God has blessed our lives so abundantly,” she said.