Holbrook says son's battle with cancer is "biggest championship - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Holbrook says son's battle with cancer is "biggest championship by far"

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Hundreds of people will lace up their walking shoes to ‘Light the Night' in Columbia's Finlay Park this Thursday, and one well-known Gamecock family is helping lead the way with the message of beating cancer.     

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's 14th annual event will begin at Finlay Park around 5:30 p.m., and in addition to hosting hundreds of walkers, this year's honored hero for the walk will be 10 year-old, Reece Holbrook. Reece is the oldest son of University of South Carolina's new head baseball coach Chad Holbrook.

Coach Holbrook says he's had a lot of hard fought games on the diamond, but they don't even compare to the battle his family faced starting eight years ago now. Holbrook says it was shortly after his wife Jenn, delivered their second son, Cooper, that they were thrown a cancer curve ball. "As a mom, the possibility of losing a child…that word cancer, just scares the heck out of anybody," said Jenn Holbrook.

The Holbrooks say Reece was 2 ½ years-old when everything happened. "It happened very fast," said Chad. "We noticed a big bruise. It was about the size of the palm of my hand, and we knew right then that something quite wasn't right," he added.

The Holbrooks say that same afternoon, Reece was checked into the Children's Hospital near their home in North Carolina. The next day he started chemotherapy treatments for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

"The first couple of days were definitely the hardest," said Chad. He said they learned a week into treatment that Reece's body was already responding in a positive way. However, regardless of early remission they were told his Leukemia would require at least three years of treatment. "As bummed out as we were, our attitude changed and we were like, ‘This is what we're dealt with, let's go beat it,'" said Chad.

Those are fitting words for a coach who is used to putting that mentality into practice on the baseball diamond. "Having something like this puts this game called baseball in perspective," added Chad. And unlike a typical baseball season, Reece's leukemia treatments lasted 3 ½ years. While he went into remission fairly early into his diagnosis, Coach Holbrook says it's the defensive side of Leukemia treatments doctors worry about.  "It's not getting it to go away, they're pretty good at getting it to go away. It's not getting it to come back that is the ultimate goal," said Chad. 

The Holbrooks say that's one of many reasons why they believe developments in Leukemia research are key. "The survival rate for what Reece had 25 to 30 years ago used to be under about 30 percent, now it's well over 80," said Chad. "We wouldn't be where we are today …we just wouldn't be there if people didn't continue to give and help raise money and awareness of this disease," added Jenn.

Reece is now 10 years-old and five years out from his last chemo treatment. "We got through it…we had great people, great doctors, great nurses," said Chad. "It's been a heck of a fight and a battle, but we've gotten through it and the little guy's turned into a lot of people's hero and that includes his mom and dad," he added.

For more information on Columbia's ‘Light the Night' event visit: http://www.lightthenight.org/sc/

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