By Julie Silva
SuperMax took a drumstick and held it to his head, causing his mom, Elizabeth Boatwright, to laugh as the 6-year-old declared he’s a unicorn with his own giggle.
Max was born with a genetic disorder (neurofibromatosis type 1) that can cause tumors to grow on his nerve endings, and SuperMax has been his alter ego ever since. He went through 18 months of chemotherapy after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015. It sits on his optic nerve and forced SuperMax to completely lose sight in his left eye, leaving only 20 percent of his vision in the right.
Then, in March 2017, SuperMax developed leukemia. His mom doesn’t know if the leukemia was a result of the chemo treatments or if he would have developed it anyway. Either way, SuperMax hasn’t let it stop him. He had a bone marrow transplant last year and received about 40 blood transfusions, sometimes two a day, between October and January of this year. Now, he is undergoing a second bone marrow transplant.
It’s clear SuperMax, his mohawk is colored red, is an entertainer. He sprinkles jokes into conversations — “Why did the turtle cross the road? To get to the shell station.” — and asks each of his guests if they have puppies. “What are their names?” he wants to know before launching into another joke.
“He’s just been like this since he was born,” Elizabeth said. “He just has a magnetic personality and zest for life that I can’t even explain.”
SuperMax has been in the hospital since Jan. 1, when his parents noted he was pale, a sign he had low hemoglobin. They thought they were just taking him in for a blood transfusion. Three months later, Elizabeth projects it will be April or May before SuperMax’s iron and enzyme levels allow for him to get a second bone marrow transplant.
When I first met him, he was walking around the hospital floor giving people high-fives with his trademark tie that zips up to his neck. (SuperMax offered up the tie to Garth Brooks to wear when the legendary singer visited the hospital.)
“He’s just a kid that loves everything,” Elizabeth said. “Whether he is here or at home or at school, he loves where he’s at.”
Elizabeth knows SuperMax has great doctors, but she believes there’s a plan for her only son, who she’s seen offer to pray for others going through hard times. She’s seen and heard from people who were touched by SuperMax, even if they only met him for a minute.
“I see God in Max,” Elizabeth said. “We lean on the doctors, but ultimately God will heal him one way or another.”
SuperMax wouldn’t be here without the generosity of the community, which sacrifices time and effort every day to donate to the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center. We need to collect 800 units a day to save and sustain lives in our area, and we can’t do it without you.
Visit giveblood.org for more information or to schedule a donation at a mobile drive or one of several donor centers throughout the region.