LAKE WYLIE — There aren’t a great many certainties these days in the Moore household, but there is one. Somebody is going to be smiling.
Plenty often it’s Brandon, 18 months, who’s a bowling ball of energy and who smiles so hard his eyes shut. At times it’s mom Crystal, often wearing an exasperated grin with two boys younger than age 4 chasing circles around her. Then, there’s Luke.
The 3-year-old glows when he leads tours into his room where the T-ball trophy and giant benefit poster live. He spends as long as a stranger will sit and listen, describing his starts and stops on the tricycle outside. He’s a child not prone to complaining. His only questions are whether he can ride that tricycle on the main road and why he has to wear pants outside.
“I don’t want to,” he says.
Moore hardly looks like a boy who spent yesterday taking chemotherapy. Or a boy hospitalized Christmas night with plunging hemoglobin counts, and whose mother spent the months since bargaining with God and bill collectors. Moore looks like a boy who just wants to wrestle his baby brother, who’s so stoked about preschool that he needed a nap after meeting his teacher.
“He’s not going to be one to have trouble making friends,” Crystal said. “I want him to live life to the fullest.”
Common parent reactions to a pediatric cancer diagnosis – shock and disbelief – weren’t what single mom Crystal Moore experienced. She provided in-home care for the elderly, so she knew about white blood cell counts, and symptoms of pain and fatigue. She considered leukemia before the doctors said it.
For a while, Luke needed chemo daily, then once a week. He’s just now getting to a maintenance phase with count checks every two weeks and hospital treatments every 12.
“Twelve weeks is a big deal,” Crystal said. “It gives us a break.”
Luke’s cheerful demeanor isn’t for a lack of understanding. Nurses show him on a stuffed monkey how they’ll administer medicine, and Luke treats the monkey himself, too. He walks a little differently, and his learning is affected. Recently, he couldn’t quite verbalize what he wanted to dip into his milk.
“I don’t know what 3-year-old forgets cookie,” Crystal said.
For Crystal, the challenges are more emotional than physical. She hates that she can’t fix it, can’t take Luke’s condition for him. Crystal tears up at Luke’s constant preface, “When I get bigger.”
“It consumes my life,” she said.
But there are silver linings. Crystal went back to work when Luke was weeks old. Since the diagnosis, she gets much more time with both boys. Luke’s progress means he’ll soon be returning to malls or bounce houses, and Mom won’t have to keep explaining to customers in the grocery store that, no, he didn’t get a bad home haircut.
“I’m tired,” Crystal said. “Other than that, I’m good.”
The latest challenge for the Moore family isn’t dire, but it has them stumped. Crystal is trying to figure out why so many people would want to donate their time and effort for a boy many of them don’t know, and how to thank them.
“I feel so honored,” she said of partner group Lake Wylie Children’s Charity.
Already there’s been a golf tournament, boating event and poker run. On Sunday, hundreds of people will gather by land and by boat for a benefit concert for Luke in Lake Wylie. The annual event, for a different child or children each time, usually raises tens of thousands of dollars.
Crystal is excited about the support. Luke is excited about the mascots expected to attend. She’s also glad to let the community meet the brothers who are “very much in love with each other,” hoping they won’t be chasing geese into the lake.
Easy going and mannered, Luke isn’t making any promises. Except, whether he realizes it, that there won’t be time or cause Sunday for moping about medical matters. In his family, there are simply too many reasons to smile.
“There’s not always good endings,” Crystal said of child cancer. “Luke is going to have a good ending.”
Want to go?
The 2012 Lake Wylie Children’s Charity Benefit Concert runs from noon until dark Sunday, Sept. 23, near T-Bones on the Lake and Buster Boyd Access Area. Events include a silent auction, children’s zone and bake sale. Money raised goes to the family of Luke Moore.
Bands include Out of the Blue, Chris Sanchez Band, The Cloud 9 Band, Skate Rink Jukebox, The Lakeside Drive Band, and Chris Cook and Friends. For more information, visit www.lkwchildrenscharity.org.