GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) A Door County boy battling cancer has decided the disease he’s fighting is not going to slow him down. This young man is simply too busy – walking for his health.
Down the hallways of HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital a young man and his parents walk. Part of 16-year-old Griffin Slezewski’s regular routine since being diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.
“I kind of just thought I’m going to get through this, this isn’t going to take me down,” Griffin said.
Griffin is battling leukemia and chemotherapy keeps him in the hospital for weeks at a time. His doctor says it’s to protect Griffin from other infections while his body is recovering.
“That chemotherapy is killing white blood cells, well it’s not selective for only the bad guys,” said Dr. Jon Brandt, Prevea pediatric hematologist-oncologist.
So with lots of time on his hands Griffin and his family enrolled in the hospital’s Walking for Health program, which gives patients special beads for walking in the hallway.
“We encourage them getting up and staying active during their hospitalization and that just helps their overall treatment process too,” said Child Life Department Specialist Amy Hagel.
“They started to make a big deal about a previous patient that walked a marathon and we said, we can top that,” said Tracy Slezewski, Griffin’s mom.
And they have. After five rounds of chemotherapy this family has walked an incredible amount of miles in these hallways.
“We originally thought it would be cool to do a one marathon each stay. But then by round three we had completed four. We’re just about going to finish our ninth marathon right now,” said Griffin.
“We’ve walked 210 miles so far,” said Tracy.
“It improves his circulation, it keeps his muscle tone up, it improves his respiration,”said Dr. Brandt. “It puts him in a position of something he can do.”
Something to keep this young man active to relieve the obvious stress of his situation.
“Just getting up and out of this room helps us all,” said Tracy.
Walking for health and for long-term recovery from a disease that isn’t slowing this family down.
“Really, he’s the one that sets the bar and we go along for the ride so to speak,” said Kevin Slezewski, Griffin’s father.
“That is how we operate. We take it as it comes,” said Griffin
Griffin just wrapped up his fifth and last round of chemotherapy.
In addition, HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital’s “Join the Fight” campaign has raised $8.7 million since February. They still need to raise $1.3 million by the end of 2019 to reach our goal, and finish renovation projects.