Today’s angel is Anthony (Tony) Puskar. Born 27MAR02, in Mishawaka Indiana to the proud mother of Char Lafortune. Mom was a single mom working as a waitress and a bank teller while living with her mother. When Anthony was three, mom joined the Army to ensure that she would be able to provide for Tony as he grew older.
Tony was a great baby and a great child. He had the personality that one would describe as a ham. He loved making people laugh. He loved being able to run and play without restraint. Since mom was in the military, they got to move around a lot. Which contrary to most, Tony seemed to enjoy the constant moving. He had a sense of adventure and loved meeting new people.
After a two-year deployment in ’08 and ’09, Char and Tony moved to Kanas for their next adventure. Tony was in school, and mom was anxiously waiting the arrival of Halloween that weekend. As Tony arrived home from school on the bus, mom noticed him limping. Of course mom asked what was wrong, and being like any other man, Tony said nothing, my leg just hurts a little. Well, little did mom know just how bad it hurt.
Tony went back to school the next day only to arrive home with a much worse limp. Later that evening while in bed, mom heard her baby scream out. Thinking the worst, mom comes running in to find her son frozen in fear screaming his bones hurt. Unsure what to do, mom laid in bed with him and the next day Anthony was taken to the doctor by his step dad at the time.
After seeing the doctor, Anthony and step dad went home. Char saw the most gut wrenching face she had ever seen on her son’s face when they pulled up. Tony was in pain, and he also had a room waiting for him at the Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. They arrived at Children’s and went to the third floor where they were greeted with a white board in Tony’s room that said, “WELCOME ANTHONY to the pediatric cancer floor.”
The next few days were a blur. They ran many tests, asked many questions, and ran more test to determine what was wrong with Tony. On 02OCT09 the words that no one wants to hear were spoken. Ms. Lafortune, your son, has Leukemia. But why, how did this happen? Mom wanted to know but held back the questions so that her son wouldn’t see the fear in her eyes.
Treatment began quickly, and it ended even quicker. Two months of chemo and Tony had beaten Leukemia. Dr. Gammis was their oncologist, and he was a straight shooter. Mom asked him always to give the news or updates with no ambiguity. Dr. Gammis became a friend of the family and was excellent with Tony.
Tony reached the two-year mark on all clears, but mom just seemed to think this was all too easy. It wasn’t six months later the dreaded words were heard again. Tony had a golf ball sized scab on his arm that he had been hiding, and once mom got wind of it, they were off to see the doctor. The doctor treated the scab as a staph infection and gave Tony some cream for the area. Two days later and a 103-degree temperature, they were in the ER when the nurse came in and mom knew what was happening. Unfortunately so did Tony. Round two of Leukemia.
As mom came back in the room from listening to the nurse, Tony says, “it’s back again huh mom”? He cried as his mother held him and then said, “guess I am going to lose my hair again. But, hey at least this time I know what’s coming”.
The treatment this time called for a bone marrow transplant. But Tony was as rare as a three sided nickel when it came to genes. There were no matches that were close enough for the doctors to feel comfortable enough to do the transplant. But then a mother had a child and donated the umbilical chord, and Tony was almost a perfect match. So as they brought Tony as close to death as possible so the newly introduce genes would accept his body, he showed no fear. He knew he was going to beat it. Sure enough, 100 or so odd days later he was out of the hospital and back home.
This time though he required more personal help at home. He had to have meds and flushes, dressing changes, and meals on time. Tony made it through another two years of all clears. And then the Army decided that it was time for Char to be relocated. Next stop Colorado.
One of the drugs that Tony was on, Sorafenib, was abruptly stopped because it caused severe bleeding inside Tony’s intestines. After three years of taking the medication, the doctors felt assured that the transplant had taken effect, and there should be no reason to worry. But then on 25AUG14 the unthinkable, and the incurable happened. The second relapse and a failed transplant. They knew in their heart that there was no coming back from this, but they didn’t stop to think about it until the first attempt at chemo did nothing to make Tony better.
We settled in Seattle for our last home together from seeking out the children’s hospital as a last hope for a chance. Tony was given the liberty to say what he could and would not accept on his DNR. Mom complied. Then 08JAN15 while, in their new home, Tony told his mother that he wanted no more chemo treatment. The next morning Char was awakened by her husband, saying that something was wrong with Tony. As she went to Tonys room, he was lying on the ground, couldn’t speak, and had green bile coming out his mouth.
09JAN15, a few hours after mom found Tony on the ground; Tony left this life to go meet his creator. With no one else in the hospital room but mom and son, Char laid next to her son and watched him slowly slip away. At 0952 in the morning, Tony became an angel amongst us. Through it all Tony showed great courage, kindness, and forgiveness. He never complained
about his path and always thought he was destined for greatness.
A life that was taken too early, a child that suffered for no reason. When will it ever stop? Why does our government allow these things to happen? I wish I knew, and I wish we had an answer. But, until then we will keep losing those that are close to us. But today, 27JUL15, I would like to celebrate the life of a young hero turned angel, Anthony Puskar. A young man that battled courageously and eventually lost the fight, but he didn’t go down without a fight.
And to his mother that showed just as much courage along the way, rest assured your son’s life will not end in vain. The story you have shared with me brought me to tears. And I do apologize I had to cut it down to what I have written. But today I hope you find, just a little solace as I honor your son as the angel of my ride. I know that he will be smiling down on me today, just as he does for you, every day. Godspeed Ken.
To see more about Anthony’s life go to: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gCvGhC-AHTRCKxzAtCBB5_6-FnzQhZ7Pek4-ffDz0fA
My ride is almost over, but that doesn’t mean my fight stops. We are creating our own non-profit to help children that live with cancer. Be sure to follow us as we continue this battle to help those in need. Our website is being worked on but for now we are on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/heroesandangelscorp