Family commemorates chemo countdown in unique way

Gage following his last chemo treatment
Gage following his last chemo treatment

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - Gage Clay is a cancer survivor.

Thursday, he started a new chapter in his young life. A day his family has been waiting for almost three years.

Gage Clay wheels himself into an exam room at St. Jude Children's Hospital after undergoing extensive treatments.

Thursday, he received his 30th spinal tap.

It's not become any easier, but trips like these have become a two and a half year routine for young Gage.

Every single Thursday is chemotherapy day at St. Jude in Memphis.

"You're an old pro at this, aren't you?" his nurse asks him as she pumps the poisonous medicine into his port.

Gage has had chemo treatments since he was six years old. Now, he's nine.

Gage was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, it's the most common childhood cancer that attacks bone marrow.

"The first six months was the really strong chemos," mom, Melanie Clay recalled. "The chemos that make you lose your hair and make you ill."

That was followed up with weekly treatments and medicine nightly.

"We've been doing that for 120 weeks exactly."

Every single Thursday, they've been counting down to one moment: Gage's last chemo treatment.

This has not been an easy road, though. Gage has undergone blood and bone marrow tests and multiple spinal taps. At the time of our interview, even though he'd just finished chemotherapy, Gage was recouping from his final spinal tap, one that gave him a severe headache.

It's a lot of stress for a nine year old boy and his family.

"We grew up there," Melanie said about St. Jude. "Gage grew up there and he had to grow up fast."

So to make the end of his cancer story a little easier, Gage and his family started up a creative countdown to make the last 10 days go by a little quicker.

It all started with one photo of Gage wearing a cardboard box with "10 Days" written on it.

"We decided it'd be funny to put a box on his head and just challenged our family and friends to join along," Melanie said.

They encouraged people to come up with creative photos symbolizing how many days Gage had before he was chemo free.

The support came rolling in and not just from friends and family.

"We've had Washington DC, Illinois, Louisiana, Texas. The furthest we've made is Afghanistan," Melanie said.

Every photo was a creative way to cheer Gage on.

Gage himself got in on it, using the planets in the solar system to count down as mom Melanie says he loves science.

"We call him the nerd of the family and for a good reason."

All thee photos led up to the moment Gage's family had been waiting on for the past two and a half years.

St. Jude nurses sang to Gage, telling him to pack his bags and get out the door because he wouldn't have chemo anymore.

It's a moment Melanie is certain that Gage, their nerd, will be able to pay back to children in the future.

"He's already talked about wanting to work at St. Jude so I would love to see him, one day, maybe find the cure for cancer. It's very possible he could be the one so...I would love to see that happen."

His family said since Thursdays have consisted of chemo for the past two and a half years, they might make getting ice cream on Thursdays a new tradition.

Their family thanks everyone who helped make Gage's battle against cancer possible.

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