When Evan Meade shakes your hand and smiles, you see the very picture of a strong, healthy American teenager. The Franklin Community High School senior is getting ready to suit up with his football team for a big game this weekend.
Then he shows you photos from one year ago. A frail shadow of a boy lies in a bed. 140 pounds. No eyebrows. Translucent skin. Your eyes involuntarily dart from the shocking photos back to the dark-haired young man sitting before you. It is impossible to believe this is the same person. “They say I probably shouldn’t have made it,” Evan confides.
Evan’s dramatic journey began in January of 2010. He developed sudden body aches and an upset stomach. He and his family suspected the flu. Blood work at the doctor’s office showed otherwise. Evan had acute myeloid leukemia.
Evan’s mother, Patty, will never forget the day her son heard his diagnosis. “This big six foot boy lying in this bed was looking up at us with tears in his eyes and he said, ‘Am I gonna die?’”
But Evan’s oncologist at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, Dr. Robert Fallon, offered hope. “He told me not to worry because I was going to be back on the football field eventually,” Evan said.
It turned out leukemia cells were in 97% of Evan’s bloodstream. He began chemotherapy the same evening. Two days later, all the toxins released by the dying cancer cells began causing his organs to fail. Evan spent 36 days in an induced coma before getting well enough for more chemotherapy. He received five courses in a nine-month time period. Thanks to bonds with staff and other families, Riley became home for the Meades.
“We cried, they held us in the hallway,” Patty said. “They were our family. They still are our family. The bonds are just unreal.”
Today Evan is cancer-free and back to a healthy 220 lbs. He helped organize a dance marathon at his school, raising $12,000 dollars for the Riley Children’s Foundation, and has spoken at more than a dozen other dance marathons across the state. He spearheaded a “Bleed 4 Meade: Sack Leukemia” blood drive at Lucas Oil Stadium, where donors also signed up for the national bone marrow registry. And Evan continues to mentor young cancer patients. It’s all his way of showing his gratitude to Riley staff and supporters.
“I don’t think ‘thank you’ is near enough,” Evan says, struggling for words. He says he owes his life to God and his doctors. “They are the reason I’m still here today.”
His mother agrees. Her eyes fill with tears when she explains what Riley means to her.
“They saved my boy. You know? They gave me back Evan.”
2018 Race for Riley October 8, 2018
Congratulations to Race for Riley on 22 years and nearly $4 million raised for the kids at Riley Hospital.×
Meet Hunter Schermerhorn September 27, 2018
A phone call from Hunter’s school nurse turned a life changing cancer diagnosis for the Schermerhorn family. See how Riley research is helping kids like Hunter and his family find the answers they desperately need.×
Women for Riley 10th Anniversary August 28, 2018
Congratulations to Women for Riley on 10 years of service and the legacy you continue to build.×
Meet Tyler Trent July 16, 2018
Riley patient Tyler Trent has everything going for him, except a cure.×
Kohl's Community Baby Shower July 16, 2018
Thank you Kohl's for helping us throw an educational community baby shower in Indianapolis.×
An Evening with daVinci Robot May 22, 2018
Learn about daVinci Robot, a tool purchased with help from donations to Riley Children's Foundation.×
Watch this VideoMore
The Sky is the Limit: Riley Cancer Center Family Prom 2018 May 22, 2018
Follow Riley kid Piper Lyon and her family through the magical experience of the Riley Cancer Center Family Prom, a tradition made possible by Women for Riley.×
Miracle Ride Celebrates 25 Years May 1, 2018
Congrats to our friends at Miracle Ride on 25 years and over $6 million raised for our Riley kids.×
Riley Maternity and Newborn Health December 18, 2017
Every baby deserves a fighting chance. Every family needs compassion. Every dollar helps our fight.×
Child Life Moment with GG December 18, 2017
Check out this child life moment with GG and Maggie.×