Durham Band Teacher’s Son Diagnosed with Leukemia

Claire Patterson, Editor

DURHAM-Instead of starting Kindergarten, as most 5-year-old children do, Clark instead headed to UC Davis for another round of chemotherapy to fight off his leukemia. 

Clark Plummer (5) was diagnosed with leukemia on July 17th, 2019. This was a devastating shock to the Plummer family. The likelihood of a child in the United States getting diagnosed with leukemia is 0.0047%, roughly 3,500 children a year, according to MD Anderson Cancer Center. Leukemia is a cancer of the blood, with four separate types, and for people under 20, leukemia is the most common type of cancer (lls.org). 

Luckily, children’s cancer centers make this challenging journey much easier. “They do a really good job of making it not just the dregs of going to the doctor every day. He actually gets to have some fun,” says Clark’s father, Matt Plummer. Clark looks forward to going to UC Davis since he gets to play Wii games with Mario and Luigi. Matt Plummer talks about one of the better parts of this process, saying, “It’s the nurses and the people they have that are designed just to make it easier for Clark.”

With treatment most days of the week, Molly Plummer and Clark commute. Jacquelynn, the daughter of Matt and Molly, is in second grade at Durham Elementary School. Matt Plummer was planning on getting to enjoy taking his kids to school, together. “I was excited. I was going to take both my kids to school every day. They were growing up.” Matt reminisces on the stage their life with children had begun to enter that year. The kids were getting to have more freedom which comes with growing up, but the diagnosis changed that. They had to be cautious with both kids. “It’s like going back in time,” says Matt Plummer. “You have to watch everything again and be more careful.” 

Between school, treatments, and regular life, it is hard for the Plummer family to spend a lot of time together. Difficulties in life are when you need family most. “It’s hard on the family,” remarks Matt. “You’re trying to keep everyone together.” With sudden life changes, like the demands of cancer treatments, family dynamics change. “I think the biggest thing for me is the sleep. I don’t sleep anymore,” says Matt. 

Clark’s recent biopsy produced good results, showing that he was in remission: most of the cancer in his blood has been killed off. The next steps in the process for Clark include four more months of intense chemotherapy and then 2 years of chemotherapy once a month. The Plummer family continues to fight Clark’s cancer head-on, and together.