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11-year-old dying from leukemia asks for racing stickers to cover his casket and the response is overwhelming

The family of 11-year-old Caleb Hammond's had to make a difficult decision when the treatment for his cancer was not working.
(Source:Getty Images)
(Source:Getty Images)

The family of 11-year-old Caleb Hammond had to make a difficult decision when the treatment for his cancer was not working. The choice was between continuing life inside the hospital with painful treatments that wouldn't work or to take him home and let him live out his life with his family by his side for support in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

Forty two-year-old Chris Playle, his uncle, said, "There were some other options left, but they were going to make him sick and do harm to his body. They decided to call it quits and come home and be a kid and do the things he hasn’t been able to do the last year-and-a-half." the boy is a huge fan of racing and is now asking all his well-wishers to send him stickers so that they can be stuck on his casket when he eventually dies from the cancer. The response had been overwhelming

Playle, speaking on behalf of the rest of the family, told KHOU in an interview, "We’re trying to get a bunch of them. We’re trying to decorate his casket. We’re just trying to do as much as we can with him while he’s here." The boy is said to have visited his uncle's house very often when he was younger. Playle lives across from the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa.

Playle would always take his nephew to see the drivers and their cars parked out on the streets before the pits were opened in the speedway. They would watch as the cars all drove into the speedway when the pits finally opened. The two of them would bring out the lawn chairs and sit and watch the cars race around the speedway and make their laps. The uncle said, "He’s my racing buddy. It was kind of our deal. I probably had just as much fun as he did."

The very first time he went for the Front Row Challenge, an event where NASCAR drivers go to Oskaloosa and compete for $20,000, the child met Kasey Kahne, a professional race car driver. Playle said, "He was all smiles. Enjoyed it quite a bit. Just being able to go, it was a good time."

Hammond had been in pain three weeks before he received the diagnosis of B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Initially, his family thought that it was just the growing pains but a doctor who reviewed his file said that it was a virus that was just trying to make its way out of his body. Then it started spreading. It reached his shoulder then his neck and there seemed to be leg pain that kept coming back. According to the GoFundMe page set up by the family, the doctors thought that it was mononucleosis or walking pneumonia.

They went and got a second opinion at the Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines in February 2017 and finally found out that his leg pains were not normal at all. The boy was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 9. One month after, the doctors told the family that Caleb had a more acute form of leukemia. He was started on a chemotherapy plan.

He was put into a medically-induced coma for a whole week and then was put on dialysis. He also had the symptoms that were more commonly seen in heart failure. According to the GoFundMe page, Caleb learned how to eat, write, and walk again after he came out of the coma. He was in the hospital for almost three months at the time. The family took Caleb to Tennessee for a bone marrow transplant in January this year and returned to their home in Oskaloosa on May 3.

The cancer came back very intensely after this and the treatments were not helping the boy. Eventually, the family decided it was best for Caleb to go home and spend his remaining life there. Playle said that his nephew has been home for about three weeks now.

The boy turned 11 on August 14. Playle said, "Medically, he’s still pretty strong. I know later on in the evenings he’s tired, he’s ready to settle down … He gets worn-out kind of easy. But otherwise, he’s still pretty strong and spirits still pretty high."

The child has been doing normal child things ever since he got back home. He has finally been able to get up to all the activities that a boy his age should be engaged in instead of sitting in a hospital. Caleb loves playing with Legos and on his birthday, some good samaritans bought him a monster truck for him to ride around in.  

Caleb has received heaps of support from the racing community on social media for his request for the stickers. Shops and race car drivers across the country are sharing the child's story and the pictures of the stickers they are sending him. Playle said that his nephew has been strong throughout all of the stuff he's suffering from.

Even though the family still has Caleb around with them now, he is going to as many races as possible to be able to experience it all. Playle said, "We’re just trying to get some racing in and trying to do everything we can to keep the spirit up. The support and everything, all the cards he’s receiving in the mail, it’s been overwhelming."