Pizza fundraiser helps Nick Franks face lymphoma battle

| May 29, 2020

Nick Franks, who is battling classic Hodgkin lymphoma, helped make signs for a fundraiser for his family. (submitted)

Chili Crossroads Bible Church volunteers quickly went through hundreds of pizzas during a fundraiser for Keene Elementary School graduate Nick Franks, who is battling classic Hodgkin lymphoma.

“It’s been awesome,” said Julie Dearyan, whose husband Neal is the pastor at the church. “We have probably gone through 350-400 pizzas so far.”
Her numbers were from early on in the fundraiser too, which was held from 3-7 p.m. on May 27 at the church. Any donations and all proceeds from the event went to the Franks family to help with costs associated with Nick’s treatment.
Nick’s mother Tanya said he was diagnosed at the end of January, but his struggles actually began in October 2019.
“He woke up one day, and his neck hurt,” she said. “I just thought he slept on his pillow wrong. He went to school and was fine, but the next morning it hurt again. I gave him some Tylenol and didn’t notice too much, but he said it hurt to turn his head.”
Nick went to school that day for his fall harvest party, and his mom came to help. She was helping in one of his siblings’ rooms, and when she went to go check on Nick, she actually ran into him in the hallway.
“He had to turn his whole body to look at me, and he had a huge lump on the side of his neck,” Tanya said. “I took him to his classroom and said we were going to leave to go to the hospital. I got the other boys and called a family member to watch them.”
The emergency room doctor thought it might be cat-scratch fever but wasn’t sure. The doctor spoke with another physician at Akron

Nick Franks wanted to help as much as he could with his family’s fundraiser, so they made pizza dough at home and sent it back to the church. (Submitted)

Children’s Hospital, and they decided to give Nick an antibiotic and told the family to follow up with their pediatrician on Monday because it was a Friday. After seeing their own doctor and switching antibiotics, the swelling went down. However, by Christmas break he had two quarter-size bumps return to his neck. They returned to the emergency room and this time knew Nick was not around a cat.

“The doctor said there was something funny about his blood work but told us to follow up with the pediatrician,” Tanya said. “This happened again on a Friday, so we had to wait until Monday.”
This time around the doctor thought Nick might have mono or he might just be a kid with lumps. His white blood cell count was up though, and the family was starting to be concerned about lymphoma.
An appointment was made to do a pediatric ultrasound at Cleveland Clinic Children’s on his spleen and neck to give the family reassurance.
“We thought we’d go up there to get it done and be back that day,” Tanya said. “We started out to the parking garage and got called to stay there. We got told on the phone that they thought it was lymphoma and to wait on an oncology appointment. We ended up spending the weekend there.”
They were released on Saturday evening and came back on Monday for a biopsy. Nick is now currently going through chemotherapy treatment.
“We started out going to Cleveland every other day, but when the coronavirus hit, they coordinated it so everyone didn’t have to go as much,” Tanya said. “By then they had an idea of what his blood counts would be and made sure he didn’t need blood or anything. So far we’ve been blessed and not needed blood. He’s had a port put in, a spinal tap and done chemotherapy, but the one thing he doesn’t want to have to do is get blood. He hasn’t had to so far, and we are very grateful for that.”
Tanya said his treatment is a trial, and Nick is doing remarkably well with it.
“He’s kept a very positive attitude,” Tanya said. “God’s got it, and it’s OK. We don’t stress, and we don’t think about it. (Nick) is a very faithful child. He gets tired, and the further we go, he is starting to throw up and smells make him nauseous, but he still tries to keep up with his siblings. He’s handling it all very well. The first day in the parking lot, he did say, ‘Why me?’ But my husband and I were both upset and calling our pastor and his wife crying. Nick hasn’t had a single day though where he’s been sad or anything. He says his prayers at night and says a different thing he’s thankful for each day.”
In addition to the church fundraiser, Keene also sold T-shirts to help assist Nick and his family.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Tanya said. “Nick isn’t a kid who plays a lot of sports. He’s very involved at church, but other than that, he doesn’t know a lot of people. When everything started happening and people started contacting us, we discussed if we wanted to say anything, but when you believe in the power of prayer, you want to get the word out there for people to pray.”
Tanya said a lot of people have been supportive. “So many people came forward, from his 4-H club, to the school, to places I used to work. He would just randomly go to the mailbox, and there’d be cards in the mail. Our church right away started doing meals, and we foster, so people from church asked about getting approved to watch the kids for us. You don’t realize how the little things are a big deal to someone in a situation like ours. Just a neighbor calling to say they are at a store and want to know if we need anything to having the frozen meals to come home to after chemo make a huge difference.”
Nick really wanted to help with the fundraiser at his church but couldn’t leave the house. Julie Dearyan suggested he make posters for the event, but after doing that, he still wanted to do more.
“She told us we could make some pizza dough,” Tanya said. “They sent the ingredients, and we worked on it at home. It’s hard not being with your church family, especially when they are supporting you so much.”
The family is very appreciative of everyone’s help.
“I want to give a big thank you to our whole community for all the support,” Tanya said. “It’s very humbling.”
Tanya also had a few words of advice to share with other parents. “Please go with your gut,” she said. “If you feel something is going on, push to get answers.”

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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