Golf event benefits ‘little hero’

Published 8:34 am Tuesday, August 18, 2015

LASKER – Imagine, as a pre-school age child, spending the majority of your young life in the hospital, battling the invasion of a brain tumor within your tiny body.

That’s the experience of now five-year-old Henry Hodges of Murfreesboro. Henry was diagnosed with an Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (AT/RT) in June of 2012 when he was only 22 months old.

Five-year-old Henry Hodges of Murfreesboro was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2012.

Five-year-old Henry Hodges of Murfreesboro was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2012.

“We were given very little hope from the doctors that Henry’s prognosis would be anything good,” said his mom, Melissa Parker of Murfreesboro. “The statistics for this specific type of brain cancer, especially for children of Henry’s age, are extremely upsetting. When faced with this news we decided to focus on the positive each day and the hope that Henry would get better.”

Between June of 2012 and March of 2013, little Henry was at the hospital for 269 days, of which he was inpatient for 117 days. He spent July 4th, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas in the hospital during his treatment.

According to family members, there were many days during his stints in the hospital that Henry had to spend in isolation. Visitation and interaction with family members was limited as Henry was confined to his small hospital room in fear that he would get sick from a virus or other ailment carried by a visitor.

Henry’s treatment included two rounds of traditional chemotherapy, three rounds of consolidated high dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant, and 28 days of proton radiation therapy.

“Each of these rounds of chemo were intended to knock everything out, all counts at zero, and they did just that,” said Parker.

His treatment required four surgeries, one of which was an attempt to resect part of his tumor.  Henry received 10 different chemotherapy drugs, including rescue medications, and 35 different medications for various side effects and infections caused by treatment.

“Many of the chemotherapy drugs that he received were designed for adult cancers, not for his little body,” said the mom. “However, he was forced to endure these drugs and all of their side effects in hopes of saving his life.”

During his treatment he required 10 blood transfusions and 20 platelet transfusions. Henry has undergone numerous tests, including MRIs and CT scans, to check for side effects from treatment.

With the help of physical therapy and occupational therapy, little Henry continues to improve, but one of the side effects of chemotherapy is hearing loss. A test revealed that Henry has severe high frequency hearing loss, which now requires him to have hearing aids. It was also discovered that Henry has sixth nerve palsy, a result of his surgery and farsightedness which will require him to wear glasses. Eyeglasses will correct this condition and his family hopes that there is no need to turn to more invasive procedures.

There are now signs of long-range hope.

In March, Henry’s family celebrated the two year treatment completion anniversary. On March 31, Henry went in to the hospital to complete a long day of testing, including a four hour MRI of his brain and spine.

“The next day we were given the best news that we could have ever received, after two years out of treatment there has been no evidence of disease,” Parker stated.

Henry’s oncologist has moved his MRI schedule to every six months with follow up appointments with his team of specialists as needed. Henry has started experiencing migraines and is being monitored by his neurologist to see if and when he will need to begin daily medication to try to control them.

“Overall, Henry is doing well and continues to be a happy little boy enjoying every day,” his mom said.

Meanwhile, the effort to help the Hodges/Parker family offset the medical bills will continue in 2015 with the fourth annual Henry’s Heroes Golf Tournament. That event will be held Saturday, Aug. 29 at Valley Pine Country Club, located at 901 Lasker Golf Course Road in Lasker.

As in years past, the entry fee remains at $250 per four-person team. That price includes a barbecue lunch, complete with all the trimmings. The meal will be served between the two scheduled tee times (teams can register for either a 9 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. start). Golf carts are included in the entry fee. Trophies will be awarded to the top teams participating in this Superball format tournament.

New this year is a dance, which will be held at Valley Pine from 7:30-11:30 p.m. on Aug. 29. DJ Jesse Williams will play the tunes and heavy Hor D’oeuvres will be served. Tickets are available at $15 per person.

Those wishing to become a sponsor of the golf tournament can do so at various levels: $100 to get your or your company’s name on the event website; $200 for the website and on a hole at the golf course; or $500 for the website and signage at the event. Call Stephanie at 252-209-1172 to register as a sponsor.

The event’s website ( is also conducting an online auction to help raise funds. Those wishing to submit items to be auctioned online or just to make a contribution to the cause are encouraged to contact event director Brandon Hodges at 252-209-6491.

The website can also be used by golf teams to register for the tournament.

Those paying by check are asked to make that document payable to Henry P. Hodges and mail to Henry Hodges, 115 Jay Trail, Murfreesboro, NC 27855 or to Brandon Hodges at 4105 #5 Bluebill Drive, Greenville NC 27858.

Proceeds raised at this year’s tournament will be used to assist the family with Henry’s continued medical bills, as well as to support childhood cancer research. A portion of the proceeds will support Henry & Daniel’s Holiday Helpers in their mission to provide gifts to children who are inpatient at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, VA.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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