Harrison Hazlett loves playing Mario Kart. He’s six years old – his favorite character is Mario – and while he can’t say for sure why, he also loves the color green.
In a brief interview, Harrison talked about his first day back to school since June of 2019, when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer which occurs most often in children and young adults.
He didn’t expect all the fuss, but Harrison said it was fun.
“His teacher sent me pictures,” said his mother, Dayna Hazlett. “They did the morning announcements and he was on camera and they honored him. All of his little friends wore green and the classroom was all decorated.”
Harrison isn’t in the clear yet. He still attends physical therapy to improve his strength and balance, and the surgery has stopped his growth in the right leg, so they’re monitoring his growth on the left one. Right now he has lifts in his shoes.
Finally, he has to get scanned to see if there’s any remaining cancer.
“Keep your fingers crossed for clean scans,” Hazlett said, hopefully.
As for Harrison, he said he’d like to play video games all day and had a lot of fun going back to school.
“He had a lot of fun,” Hazlett said and laughed. “He came home with a thing of green playdough, and a little bag and some green pencil-sharpeners. And everything green.”
Hazlett said the Newfane Central School District has been more than wonderful. She and her husband attended and graduated Newfane High School, and when they had Harrison, they knew they wanted to move back to the town.
Obviously, it hasn’t been all smiles.
“He missed the last week of school and he came back on the very last day and he was in a wheelchair. It was the most horrible thing thing to have to see him get wheeled through,” she said. “He said goodbye to his teachers, to have that closure and when school started again, he had a tutor come. Pam Bochnewetch. She came up to the hospital as much as she could. She taught him how to read. She was through the Newfane District, as well.”
“I credit her with everything,” Hazlett continued. “Keeping him on track. I mean she just – with driving – even in the winter and seeing him being sick. She didn’t treat him any differently, even if it was for only a couple of minutes, she came just to see what he could do.”
“We wanted him to have what we had (in Newfane), because you’re not just a number,” she concluded. “Your teacher knows you and your friends. It’s more personal and you feel like part of a family.”