By Thomas Garcia PNT Staff Writer
A Dora student’s fight against cancer received a boost with his father’s return from active duty in Afghanistan recently.
Eight year-old Lance Fletcher of Dora was diagnosed earlier this summer with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.
He has been receiving treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
His father Joe Fletcher, a major in the Army National Guard and a teacher at Dora Schools, has returned from active duty in Afghanistan to be with his son.
“I was able to stay with Lance in Memphis for 10 days,” Fletcher said. “I left on Tuesday as he began his chemotherapy.”
Lance has a long journey ahead of him, he has to undergo 10 weeks of chemotherapy, surgery to remove his knee followed by an additional 26 weeks of chemotherapy, Fletcher said.
Doctors performed a biopsy on Lance’s knee and a spot found on his lung, Fletcher said.
They removed the spot on his lung which was cancer; they believe that they got all of the cancer with the procedure, Fletcher said.
Fletcher said that his time in Memphis was limited because he had to report to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, for out-processing.
“I had to get back to the base, and I wanted to come to Dora to spend time with my daughter, Lindsey,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher said that he will leave on Monday and return to Memphis to stay with Lance at St. Jude.
Fletcher plans on staying with Lance for the duration of his 90-day leave from school and then return to Dora to resume teaching.
“Carol will come back to Dora while I’m in Memphis with Lance,” Fletcher said. “She will return to Memphis when my leave is up.”
Dora residents and surrounding communities have pulled together to help the Fletcher family.
A Lance Fletcher fund has been set up at the Portales National Bank. According to bank officials, people can make donations at either the main branch or south branch locations in Portales.
Lance’s fellow classmates and Dora School students plan on holding a Hopping for Lance fun run Oct. 16 at Dora’s football field, said organizer Diane Lieb.
The students will collect donations and pledges and walk for one hour, all of the funds raised will be deposited into the Lance Fletcher Fund, Lieb said.
“This community has been incredibly supportive,” Fletcher said. “They supported me as a solider and have done even more so for my son.”
At the time of Lance’s diagnosis, Fletcher was stationed in Afghanistan.
“I was doing my job like I always do when I received an e-mail from my wife to ‘call me’ no matter what time it was,” he said. “Right then I knew that something was wrong.”
Fletcher said that when he called home, his wife Carol told him about Lance’s cancer.
“My thoughts immediately went to making sure that my son got the best care and getting home to my family,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher said that he has no plans on leaving the National Guard and will continue to serve.
“I still believe that serving is the right thing to do,” Fletcher said. “I do not think that the guard will have me deploy anytime soon. If they do try to deploy me while my son is in Memphis, then I will have to quit. My place is with my family.
How to Help
Hopping for Lance fun run
When: Oct. 16
Where: Dora football field
Who: Area students
What: Rubber bracelets to raise funds and keep Lance in the community’s thoughts and prayers
Where: Available from Dora students
Lance Fletcher Fund
Where: Portales National Bank branches
What: Donations to help family with treatment costs
Follow Lance’s progress
To read updates about Lance, log on to the free Web site:
There is a daily journal posted by his mother Carol Fletcher and also a guestbook that can be signed by site visitors.