Courage is a big, tough word that no child should have to know.
But too often they do.
And, when they do, courage takes on a whole new meaning.
Just ask those who know 6-year-old Alex Morgan.
Alex was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor on Sept. 13, 2008.
On that dark night, his mom gathered herself after hearing the diagnosis and went into Alex’s hospital room to lay down beside him.
“When I told Alex, he reached over and patted my arm and said, ‘It will be OK, Mama,’” said Kim Morgan. “His concern was for me, not for himself. But that’s Alex. He is the most caring little boy that I have ever known. He always thinks of others before himself. He is amazing, and he had so much courage and so much faith.”
Just a few days before, Alex had been on the soccer field, running and playing like any other active, competitive little boy.
“But Alex hadn’t been feeling well, and we’d been to the doctor,” Morgan said. “On that Saturday, I noticed that one of Alex’s eyes seemed to cross and then he began stepping on one of his feet.”
Kim Morgan realized that something was very wrong. After a few phone calls, Alex and his parents were on their way to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.
“They took Alex right away,” Morgan said. “They didn’t ask anything about insurance. They just started running tests.”
It was later that night when the Morgans were given the diagnosis. As devastating as it was, the couple unknowingly had been prepared.
Five years ago, Ron Morgan was diagnosed with lymphoma. He handled the disease and the treatments well; but he also kept his illness from others.
“We really didn’t want people to know,” Kim Morgan said. “But by keeping Ron’s illness from others, we kept blessings from them because people really want to help. So, when Alex was diagnosed, we got on the telephone and started calling people. By church time on Sunday morning, I don’t think there was hardly a church in Pike County that didn’t have Alex on its prayer list. And, we appreciate so much the prayers, the cards and the concern of the people of Pike County. It carried us.”
And hope had wings in Ron Morgan.
“That Ron had come through cancer and had done so well was great encouragement to all of us,” Morgan said.
They knew that battles against cancer could be fought and won. And, they knew there was a lot of fight in their little boy.
“Alex is a competitor,” Morgan said. “Whatever he does, he gives it his all. And we knew that he would have the courage to do whatever it took to fight this disease.”
Alex spent three weeks at Children’s Hospital where he had surgery to remove all the turmor, save a small portion. He had 31 radiation treatments and six rounds of chemotherapy during the six weeks that he lived at Hope Lodge. And never did his faith waiver or his hope diminish.
While he was in the hospital, Alex continued to do what he has always done – say his prayers. “The doctors said they had never seen a child put down a video game to pray,” Morgan said. “But Alex did.”
“When I pray, I pray for other people,” Alex said. “I wanted people to pray for me, and they did.”
After the surgery, Alex couldn’t walk for a while. But he has worked very hard to regain that ability.
At the Hope Lodge, Alex left first in a wheelchair, then on a walker and then holding hands with his special friend, Aubrey Maulden.
His right side was affected by the surgery and the doctors suggested the he learn to write with his left hand. “We gave Alex a pencil, and he wrote with his left hand just as pretty as he did with his right hand,” his mom said. “It was amazing. And, now he is beginning to use his right hand. So he’s showing improvement there too.”
Alex isn’t back in school and won’t be for a while. He goes back to Birmingham for evaluation on Dec. 18, and for an MRI on Jan. 6 to check on the tumor and will begin chemotherapy again in Jan. 7. He will have six rounds of chemo for three days a month for six months. Alex is taking it all in stride, but he misses his friends at school and often finds staying at his home in Banks a bit “boring.”
But he loves to read and has set a goal of 250 Advanced Reader books this school year. “I read the most books in kindergarten, and I want to do it in first grade, too,” he said. “I like to read books about animals. And, I really like lions.”
And, that’s understandable. Lions are courageous animals.