Sunday, April 15, 2012

Porter Thorkelson - a GREAT KID Needs Your Prayers!

For those of you who are so inclined…

We have a wonderful young man in our ward named Porter Thorkelson. The Thorkelson family moved in a few years ago, and I met Porter while driving him to a scout jamboree, down at the U. To say that the day was awful would be unnecessarily kind. The event was disorganized, poorly designed, and over-attended. I felt bad for myself, having to be there all day. But I felt even worse for the boys – for many, this was their first experience with Scouts.

Throughout the day, we would regroup as a scout troop, and try to figure out where everyone was supposed to be. Porter brought comic relief to each of these “get-togethers.” Finally, when we mercifully decided to leave early, Porter entertained me and the kids in my car, during the entire trip back to our homes. I was struck by how deep and subtly sarcastic his humor was. (Everyone who knows me knows that I love sarcasm. Subtle sarcasm is the best – where you and maybe only one or two other people get it) I remember telling his father that I had really enjoyed Porter, in part, because he has “an adult’s sense of humor.” His dad’s face told me that I probably needed to explain that better, which I did. (No dirty jokes, Dad. Just comments and the occasional barb that showed a refined intelligence.)

Porter messing around. He's always messing around; and if there is a new kid that needs to be welcomed, Porter is there!
Porter with one of his wonderful sisters.
About two weeks ago, Porter hurt his leg playing rugby. It didn’t seem like a big deal, at the time – it was just something that would require a little time to rest. When the swelling wasn’t receding after a few days, Porter’s parents took him back to the doctor, and the doctor ran some tests. You can imagine the family’s dismay when the doctor said, “We need to get Porter in right away to do a biopsy on the area where his leg is swelling." And by “right away,” they weren’t talking about the next available appointment, next week sometime. They were talking about going to the hospital right then, and staying until the biopsy was successfully taken. Several excruciating hours later, the doctors took Jared and Mary Ann (Porter’s wonderful father and mother) into a small conference room in the hospital to give them the bad news: Porter had bone cancer, and it was serious. Their recommendation was to place a port into Porter’s chest while they had him in the hospital, and start using it for aggressive chemotherapy treatments as soon as they could be scheduled. They were hopeful about saving him. Their plan is to go aggressive with the chemotherapy for about three weeks. Then, they will do surgery, I assume to remove any trace of the tumor they can find. If the tumor has spread, or if it is just bigger than they anticipated, they will remove the leg. Following surgery, they will start the chemotherapy again for at least another month.

One tough kid. Porter told his family that if anyone in the family had to get cancer, he was glad it was him.

Since we heard this news last weekend, I have been walking around in a bit of a funk. Of course, I love Porter. The world needs a boy like Porter! He has way too much to offer for his mission here to be finished. What put me in more of a funk, though, was the horrifying thought of what Jared and Mary Ann are going through. I’ve hugged my kids more this week than I had in a long time. Porter is a healthy kid. You would have never known something like this could be lurking in his body. The unpredictability of it just really gets me.

So, back to what I was alluding to in the opening line of this post. Our entire ward held a special fast for Porter on April 15. Even if you don’t know Porter, fasting for Porter would be so appreciated. If fasting is not your thing, we would welcome your prayers. And this definitely isn’t an exclusively Mormon invite. We welcome folks of all races, genders, and religions to join us in raising up our voices to our Heavenly Father (or whatever presence you pray to, when you do such things).

Also, Porter's family and friends will be wearing blue on April 27th, and posting pictures to the Support Porter Facebook page.

(On a side note, I just reread the talk given by Elder Neal L Andersen during the Sunday afternoon session of General Conference. If you haven't read it, you should. It's here:  What Thinks Christ of Me?    It's pertinent to this situation with Porter.)

Porter’s father has put up a Facebook page, to provide updates on his condition. If you would be interested in joining, drop me an email through Facebook, and I will get you an invite.

Thanks in advance for your participation, friends!