ARLINGTON — When the members of the Arlington Community Club decided to pick a grand marshal for Arlington Days’ parade themed “Thank A Hero,” their thoughts turned to Lucas Baker, 10, who has been fighting cancer for the last 10 months.
“For us it was kind of a no-brainer,” said Community Club President Paul Seedorff. “We saw how Lucas’ fight was bringing the community together and how much everybody was inspired by him. We also thought it might be a great way to boost his spirits and show him we were all behind him.”
The Arlington Days’ parade starts at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 6.
The illness came to light after Lucas started coughing on Sept. 8, 2018. It caused him to be short of breath. At times, he could barely breathe. His parents, Nick and Bridget Baker, rushed him to the emergency room. An x-ray showed a mass in Lucas’ chest.
After two weeks in the University of Iowa’s Children Hospital, he was diagnosed with acute t-cell lympoblastic non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The plan was to “shrink and dissolve” the mass and let his body flush it out.
Since then Lucas’ has been making trips to Iowa City for chemotherapy and medication. He has his blood drawn weekly to see if he can face the chemo treatments, if not, he has to wait another week, putting him further behind in his fight.
Every time he has a fever, it’s back to the hospital. In order to go outside he has to wear a surgical mask. Because of his illness he could not be with his fourth-grade friends in the classroom.
Lucas hopefully will finish his last intensive phase of this battle this summer. Then he will start his maintenance phase, which will allow him to start fifth-grade at Starmont School in the fall.
Lucas has lived in Arlington his whole life and his grandparents are Scott and Mary Jo Brown, and Jill Baker and Mike and Tristan Baker. He loves playing many kinds of video games, such as “Fortnite,” and playing baseball. If Lucas could add one business to Arlington he said it would be an arcade for kids.
He also loves his dog, Sparky.
“He is an awesome kid with a smile that lights up a room and an amazing imagination,” said Starmont teacher Abby Schumacher, who had Lucas in class before his illness. “His friends describe Lucas as caring, strong, helpful, funny and trusting. You just have to meet him in person to see the charisma this kid possesses.”
Through his fight Lucas never lost touch with his friends and classmates. Lucas “zoomed in” on the class on his computer whenever the opportunity came up.
His classroom teacher, Janet Swanson, tutored him at home, and his classmates went to see him at his house the last week of school.
The school got behind Lucas in his fight offering Team Lucas shirts and bracelets with the proceeds going to the family. A hat day was held to help cover expenses and there was a Family Fun Night when students donated money to be able to throw pies in the faces of three school staffers.
“Through everything he has shown a sense of humility and demonstrated a sense of caring,” Swanson said. “He makes all those around him realize what a fighter he is.”
Today the mass in Lucas’ chest is gone.