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Golfing for Ketren at Heron Bay

Photo by Elaine Rackley: Ketren Waites, 2, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in April. The disease is a form of cancer of the white blood cells. A fund-raiser, “Golfing for Ketren” is scheduled to be held at Heron Bay Golf & Country Club, Monday.

Photo by Elaine Rackley: Ketren Waites, 2, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in April. The disease is a form of cancer of the white blood cells. A fund-raiser, “Golfing for Ketren” is scheduled to be held at Heron Bay Golf & Country Club, Monday.

The parents of a 2-year-old boy with leukemia said they are adjusting to their new family lifestyle.

Tracy and Josh Waites' son Ketren laughed as he posed for pictures at his Locust Grove home. He plays like any toddler, with the exception of a slight limp when he walks.

"He's always been happy and energetic," said his mother. "Everybody who meets him loves him. He just has a very contagious spirit."

Tracy, 40, said Ketren was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) April 28. The disease is a form of leukemia, or cancer of the white blood cells characterized by excess lymphoblastic. Malignant, immature white blood cells continuously multiply and are overproduced in the bone marrow. ALL can cause damage and death by crowding out normal cells in the bone marrow, and by spreading (infiltrating) to other organs.

"I was shocked, but after researching the treatment options I felt a little more confident about his prognosis," said Josh Waites, 34, a Clayton County Sheriff's Office Investigator. "It has become our new normal, I am looking forward to the day when he won't be going into the hospital as often."

Ketren received a 24-hour chemotherapy treatment through a port in his chest Thursday. Josh Waites said his son remained in the Hospital Thursday but should be home by Monday for a fund-raiser which will be held on his behalf.

Golfing for Ketren is scheduled to be held at Heron Bay Golf & Country Club, Monday at 10 a.m. It is $85 per person or $320 per team to participate in the golf tournament. Ten players will have a chance to win $100,000. Donations may be tax-deductible. To register as a player or sponsor, and learn more about Ketren visit www. caringbridge.org/visit/Ketren Waites or visit www.pei.golfreg.com. For more information about the golf tournament contact Mikala Carver at (770) 957-5633.

The couple, along with their son, spends a great deal of time at Children's Healthcare Atlanta-Scottish Rite hospital. Ketren is in Phase III of a three-and-a-half year treatment plan. According to his mother, the youngster becomes lethargic after his chemotherapy treatments.

"The most difficult time was when he was diagnosed, and the most [happy] was when we got together for the Lighthouse Retreat in Santa Rosa Beach Fla., in August," said Josh Waites. The Light House retreat is a retreat for families dealing with childhood cancer. The event is held 12 times per year, for 10 families at a time, according to the father.

"It was time to be alone with my family to reflect and reconnect," said Josh Waites.

"We have a lot of support from friends, family and co-workers. That makes life a lot easier," said Ketren's father. "We try to treat him as normal as possible. Sometimes it is hard when you know he is going through a rough time."

Ketren is scheduled to go through what his mother described as his toughest phase. The youngster will go through 10 weeks of delayed intensification. It is a mixture of a variety of steroids and chemotherapy treatments given to him through his port.

"I never leave his side," said Tracy Waites. "It's a challenge for the rest of the family to maintain a normality to our new normal."

The Waites also have three daughters, Lexi, 18, Rayven, 14, and Karli, 7.