Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact
Previous story: Every Dog Has its Day
Next story: Strange Collages on Display at Nina Freudenheim Gallery

A Benefit for Julien Lamb at Buffalo Iron Works

Patrick and Julien Lamb (photo by Shawna Stanley)

The Toughest Kid

With a baby due in January, Allentown resident Patrick Lamb is experiencing the bundle of feelings that accompanies the role of being an expectant father: Anticipation, joy, and all the rest. At the same time, his identity as the father of an eight year old son, Julien, who has terminal cancer, turns his situation into a complicated one.

For instance Julien is excited at the prospect of becoming a brother, however, looming in the air is the sobering reality of whether or not he will make it in time to meet the newborn. With the recent failure of a bone marrow transplant, and the absence of further treatment options, Julien and his immediate family are currently living with a ticking time bomb. Coupled with the expectation of new life, it’s a formula for the kind of emotionally chaotic ordeal that Patrick relays in rather simple terms, “Everything is bittersweet” he describes.

Having spent the past two years battling Leukemia, it’s apparent that Julien has had to overcome more obstacles than most of us will ever have to confront in our lifetime. Furthermore, his history with health problems stretches all the way to his birth. As a newborn, Julien possessed the most severe case of cleft lip that his doctor had witnessed in 20 years, hence, the battle to attain a healthy, “normal” body has been a prevailing theme throughout Julien’s life.

It’s safe to confirm that Patrick’s son has never been a stranger to adversity, he explains, “The worst part of it is that Julien has always had to explain himself. You know how brutal kids are, we had to teach him just to tell kids ‘Yes I do look different, I was born with a cleft lip, that’s why my nose looks this way, that’s why my lip looks this way, you either want to be my friend or you don’t, and if you don’t then so be it.’”

Cancer proved itself to be a monster on a whole other level. A bombardment of clinics, doctors, hospital beds, emergency rooms, and evil medical expenses beyond those that Patrick, Julien, and his mother had ever experienced. And it all began on a fateful Sunday in May 2005, during a trip to the Buffalo Zoo. Patrick recalls that they were at the otter exhibit when Julien suddenly began vomiting and eventually fell over. He had to carry his son out of the establishment in order to take him home, where he had appeared to be doing better. The turn of events quickly flipped when Julien brought up a grave invocation, as Patrick recalls, “he was eating a bowl of cereal and he suddenly looked up at me and said ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me.’” Hours later, a visit to the clinic, accompanied with Julien’s mother, informed both her and Patrick that their son had either a terrible virus, or something “worse.” They shuffled Julien to the hospital to get further bloodwork done, and afterwards on their way home they stopped at Target to buy Julien a gift as a reward for having bravely withstood such a turbulent day. The parents had been home for hardly half an hour when a nurse called, “She said, ‘you have twenty minutes to half an hour to get Julien to the hospital immediately or else he’ll die.’” Upon arriving in the emergency room, they were met with an entire medical crew, which had been assembled for Julien’s emergency blood transfusion.

As their son underwent the procedure, hospital staff ushered Patrick and Julien’s mother into a side room. Inside, they received the worst kind of news that could befall on a parent. Cancer cells had been detected within Julien’s bloodstream and their son now officially held the title Leukemia patient. The body of a healthy individual typically contains 10,000-15,000 white blood cells, earlier that day, Juliens arteries and veins were streaming with around 650,000. It was an overabundance that transformed the consistency of his blood into a paste. Julien remained at the hospital for rest of the month and towards the end of his stay, even more bad news managed to enter the equation, the diagnosis of Julien carrying Philadelphia chromosone disorder, which reduced his chances of surviving the cancer from 80-90 percent to 30-40 percent. The next two years passed like a blur, characterized by endless sessions of chemotherapy, trials of new medication, a fleeting interval of remission, and then a spinal tap along with more sessions of chemotherapy, 11 days of radiation, and finally the last resort of a bone-marrow transplant. Thirty days after the operation, they were struck with the terrible news of its results. The procedure had failed and the cancer cells had managed to double in number within the span of two days. At the heart of these vast tribulations is a normal eight year old boy with a sharp sense of humor and a soft spot for animals, the cartoon network series Adventureland, and anything Star-Wars related. Despite his initial reservations, Julien has come to harbor a fervent curiosity towards the life taking root within Pat’s fiance, he waves at the pregnant stomach and says hi to it. “I knew he warmed up to Lauren’s pregnancy one day while we were in the bathroom. He suddenly told me he had an idea for the baby’s name. I asked him what it was.” Julien’s response? “Hot Dog”

At 7pm On Saturday (Sept 20), a few impressive Buffalo based acts including pop singer Julie Byrne, Dirt Commission, and Oats Holy Roller, as well as DJ Rufus Gibson and some special surprise performers will get together for a benefit show for Julien at Buffalo Iron Works, 49 Illinois St, Buffalo. Tickets are $15 at the door, or $12 through ticketfly. #toughestkidinbuffalo

blog comments powered by Disqus