One of the proudest things we do at JavaPresse is support wish children who are going through some of the hardest times of their young lives through the Make-A-Wish Foundation - Central and South Texas. This is the story of Luke Edmunds, who we sent to Paris, and is now officially in remission.
On Sept. 16, 2015, the world was turned upside down for a mother and her eleven-year-old. Nicole Cloutier was a single mom when her son, Luke Edmunds, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, “AML is a fast-growing form of cancer of the blood and bone marrow.” Because of how fast it grows, it is a difficult disease to treat and has a survival rate of 26 percent even with therapy.
Luke was hospitalized the same day as his diagnosis. For six-and-a-half months, he called the hospital home while undergoing intensive chemotherapy. He spent his days building Star Wars Lego kits and undergoing treatment.
A big fan of Star Wars, he was understandably upset that he missed the premiere of Star Wars Episode XII: The Force Awakens. So Luke’s nurses contacted a local theater and asked for a private screening. The theater happily agreed, opened the theater early, and welcomed Luke who was released from the hospital for the private screening.
Luke’s mother Nicole lived at the hospital with him through his treatment while working remotely for the Madison County District Attorney’s office as a paralegal and victim advocate.
Before Luke’s diagnosis, less than a month earlier, he and his mom had gone to California to visit LEGOLAND, Disneyland, swim with dolphins at Sea World, explore the San Diego Zoo and build sandcastles on the beach with professional sand sculptors.
Nicole said going to California before the diagnosis was a blessing because the intensive chemotherapy used to treat his AML had damaged his heart and Luke went into heart failure. He was life-lifted from McLane’s Children’s Scott & White Hospital in Temple to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
“On Valentine’s Day last year, they sat me down and told me he wasn’t going to make it,” Nicole said. “They didn’t think they could keep him alive long enough for his heart to recover.”
At the time, Nicole was dating David Glickler, a Hays County Judge, who had not yet met her son, until David offered to take turns staying with Luke at the hospital. He and Luke got to know each other and became close.
“After they told me that he was going to die, Luke said he wanted us to get married,” Nicole said. “So we got married in the intensive care unit at Texas Children’s.”
Luke then turned his focus to his Make-A-Wish after his social workers referred him to the central and south Texas chapter. When Luke met with his volunteers, he told them he had always wanted to go to Paris and had written a letter telling them in detail that he wanted to go to Paris because he is part French, loves art, and hopes to see the Mona Lisa and visit the catacombs and the Eiffel Tower.
Nicole said he was thinking about his wish throughout his treatment; however, after they were told he was going to die, David’s nieces, who had been to Paris, made him a slideshow of the “sights of Paris” so he could visit while in the hospital.
“We were thrilled and grateful that Luke would get this wonderful experience that he had dreamed of while clinging to life,” Nicole said. “It helps to ease the painful memories of the things he had to go through during treatment.”
After being released from the hospital, he wasn’t allowed out in public because of his compromised immune system, and he had to undergo regular blood transfusions because his bone marrow was not producing blood cells.
After, Luke participated in the McLane Charity Golf Classic as a spokes child, who stands at the holes to greet golfers and thank them for coming. The tournament raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.
Nicole said he was the first kid to volunteer to speak at the event. “There wasn’t a dry eye in in the house.”
Luke said he didn’t write a speech; he just said it from the heart with the help of his stepdad. His mom had to take over at one point during his speech because he couldn’t stop crying.
Nicole added that after his speech, Tootsie Roll Industries went on to win the charity’s silent auction and gave Luke the contents, which included a tiny helmet signed by Emmett Smith and a football signed by Jason Witten and Randy White.
At the event, he was able to meet celebrities like Randy White and Miss America and several others.
On Sunday, July 16, Make-A-Wish hosted a “wish announcement party” at Pluckers in San Marcos. Luke got his bag of goodies for the trip as well as other information about their departure. Included in his bag of goodies was a letter to the airline crew requesting to meet the pilot and take a tour of the cockpit.
On July 25th, Luke, Nicole, David, Austin and Morgan took off for their Paris adventure, thanks to JavaPresse (the generous company that made Luke’s wish possible) partnering with Make-A-Wish Central & South Texas.
While Luke is officially in remission, it’ll be four more years before he’s considered cancer-free. There is a 50 percent chance he could relapse. He will continue to see a cardiologist due to the damage to his heart, but after beating cancer, we’re sure nothing will slow this courageous young man down.