Arnold boy, 6, celebrates life, hope
Like any children's party, dozens of yelling kids ran around the room past balloons, gifts, cookies and punch and adults tried to talk over the din.
But Saturday's gathering at Harvest Baptist Church in Fawn marked much more than a birthday.
It was a celebration of life and hope for the future of Camden Lookabaugh, 6, of Arnold.
Family and friends celebrated his final chemotherapy treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a common form of childhood blood cancer.
“When I told our pastor about how we came to a milestone, he said ‘that's something to celebrate,' '' said Camden's mom, Chrissy, 34. “And I said well, I‘m kind of scared because what if it were to come back? And he said, ‘He went through all that so let's celebrate it.' ”
And celebrate they did.
About 100 people showed up. There was a cake with “great job Camden” in orange icing. Green and orange star-shaped balloons floated around the room. Green is Camden's favorite color and orange is the color for Leukemia awareness.
In true party fashion the kids attacked round, black “cancer cell” piñatas with bats.
Camden got his cancer diagnosis three years ago. After that, he went to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh every other week for chemotherapy. He had an access port in his chest used to deliver the chemotherapy drugs.
His final treatment was Christmas Eve.
He had the port removed in late January.
Camden said he's been having fun doing things he couldn't do when his port was in, like wrestling, swimming and playing football.
When asked if he thought there would be so many people at his party, his face lit up and he flashed a broad smile as he shook his head no.
Harvest Baptist's pastor, the Rev. Kurt Skelly, said everyone has been praying for the Lookabaughs.
“I think we've all prayed for this moment in Camden's life,” he said. “This is a special moment.”
Camden's grandmother, Kim Lookabaugh, whom Camden calls “Marna,” said she was so happy to see so many people.
“It's amazing and Camden deserves it,” she said. “He's been through so much.”
A few people whom the Lookabaughs met during Camden's treatment attended.
Mike Talotta, a physician's assistant at Children's Hospital, said he came out because he was involved in Camden's care for about two years.
“I feel like I developed a good relationship with the family,” he said.
Jennifer Noro, of Hampton, said she and Chrissy Lookabaugh bonded quickly after they met while both of their sons underwent chemotherapy treatment for the same cancer.
The two boys were diagnosed seven days apart. Noro's son, Mario, had his final chemotherapy treatment on Dec. 19.
“We are making this journey together,” Noro said. “We're more like sisters than friends.”
Doctors will continue to monitor Camden for signs of a re-occurrence of the cancer. He'll have a blood test monthly for the next year.
The Lookabaughs look forward to celebrating Camden's next big milestone — five years cancer-free.
Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or firstname.lastname@example.org.