Last summer, Phillip developed a mass on the left side of his neck that kept getting bigger. He couldn’t turn his head and was in pain. After several visits to the doctor, he was diagnosed last July with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer involving lymph nodes. The cancer was in his throat, around his heart and lungs.
Phillip went through intense chemotherapy at the University of Kentucky Pediatric Hematology- Oncology Clinic in Lexington during his junior year and was unable to play soccer like he wanted.
Doctors at the UK clinic told Phillip about a month ago that the cancer is in remission. He goes back to the UK clinic September 1 for the third set of three month scans to see if the disease is still at bay.
“He’s back at everything now — school, soccer, work,” said Milette McCray, Phillip’s mother. “He’s doing really good. He’s a tough little fellow.”
This summer Phillip has been practicing soccer with his team, working at the Isom IGA grocery and looking forward to his senior year.
“He wants everything to be normal and I try to keep it as normal as I can,” said his mother, who said she admires her son for his positive attitude.
“He said he would rather have (cancer) than a younger child or an older person,” she said. “He has a really good outlook on it. He has been a trooper through all of it.”
A nurse at the Kentucky Clinic in Lexington kept asking Phillip what his wish would be if Kids Wish Network granted it. Phillip was hesitant to tell the national charitable organization what he wanted because he said there are people who need help more than him.
“Phillip told them, ‘If you really want to spend a dollar on me, pimp my truck,’” said Dean Fields, Phillip’s grandfather.
Fields and his wife, Nina, gave Phillip a gray 2001 Dodge Ram 1500 soon after he got his driver’s license.
“I said, ‘Pa Pa has a truck you can drive until you get better,’” said Dean Fields, who also lives on Pine Mountain.
Letcher County Sheriff Danny Webb and Deputy Scott Taylor solicited donations to help pay for the project. VFW Post 5829, Masonic Lodge 754, Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church, Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation, Elkhorn-Hazard Coal Land, Whitaker Bank, Community Trust Bank and Tim Short Chrysler made contributions.
Donald Fields and Roger Baker of Quality Auto Parts at Dry Fork donated the black paint and Don Childers of Childers Oil Company donated bumpers. Carolyn and Don Cummings redid the headliner, which is located on the top inside of the truck. Ted Cook, owner of Cook’s Body Shop, donated the time he worked on the vehicle.
“It rusted to the ground,” said Cook. “It was in rough shape.”
The vehicle got new carpet, seat, bumpers, rims and tires. Cook also supplied a sound system.
“It doesn’t look like the same truck,” said Cook.
Cook drove Phillip’s truck out of a garage at Mayking on July 30 while Phillip, his family and a few people who helped raise money or donated services watched nearby.
“That is the happiest he has been in many days,” said Dean Fields. “He has been so sick. That is the biggest smile I have seen on his face in a long time. He has anticipated this moment for seven months.”
Milette McCray said Phillip was quiet when he first looked at his newly remodeled truck.
“He just stood in amazement and didn’t say a lot at first,” she said. “I think he was shocked.”
Phillip kept smiling.
“I love it,” said Phillip. “I wasn’t expecting the pin striping or anything on it.”
Nina Fields said community members have been supportive of Phillip and his family throughout the last year by participating in bake sales and other fundraisers as well as asking if they needed anything and praying for Phillip and his family.
“The people in the community have totally been amazing,” said Nina Fields. “ People pulled through for us.”
“I thank everybody from the bottom of my heart,” said Milette McCray.
The Mountain Eagle