Students rally to welcome cancer patient back to class

Published 9:49 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Troy Elementary School first-grader Cody Youngblood was welcomed back to school Wednesday in kid-king fashion. Ice cream and cake, Michael Jackson on the boom box and high-fives from friends made for a perfect welcome-back for the 7-year-old who has battled cancer for most of his life.

“Cody got sick when he was a year old,” said his mother, Jessica Youngblood. “He wouldn’t eat so he was so skinny. He could hardly stand up and his skin looked like it was going to come off his body.”

It was not until Cody was two years old that he was diagnosed with what, his mom said, was a disease similar to leukemia.

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“The doctors in Birmingham diagnosed Cody and he had to take chemotherapy treatments for five years,” Youngblood said. “For the first year, he had to take chemo two times a week. For three years, he had to take the treatments once a week. Then it went down to every two weeks, then every month and then every five months. Now, he’s in remission.”

The extended length of the chemo treatments caused Cody to lose his hair. When his hair began to come back, there was a large area where no hair would grow.

“The doctors at Children’s Hospital told us about a surgery that could replace the hair Cody had lost,” Youngblood said. “It was not a hair implant. It was a tissue expander.”

The two-stage surgery was planned around Christmas break. Cody didn’t rejoin his classmates until this week.

“I’m glad to be back,” Cody said. “I missed playing with my friends. I like school. It’s fun.”

Cody was a little shy about all of the attention heaped on him as he was welcomed back to school.

He said that he “likes” having his hair back, “It’s almost all back,” he said, with a smile. However, he added that the best thing is being back at school.

Not only were Cody’s classmates there to welcome him back, so were members of the Troy Elementary School Student Council. The student council members presented Cody’s family with a gas gift card to show their support during these difficult times.