COLUMBIA — When his Russelville Outlaws teammate drew a bases-loaded walk in the first inning Friday at the Show-Me State Games, Jordon Geiser was told he could come home.
The 11-year-old had heard that before. He'd seen the smiles flashing back at him from the dugout by the teammates who have waited for him to walk home in times much more difficult than what the baseball game had to offer.
Members of the Outlaws waited for their friend to come home Feb. 11 at the St. Louis Children's Hospital. Jordon exited the hospital to find a band of teammates ready to celebrate the biggest victory of his short but challenging life.
That was the day Jordon defeated cancer.
"It was just awesome to see how much they cared," he said.
Support helped Jordon get through the worst of fears, the most crippling of weaknesses and the most lonely of nights spent wishing he could do something more. It gave him hope in a room scarce of it, where children dreamed of the days they would defeat their deadly diseases.
Jordon spent eight months battling large B cell lymphoma, a lump that developed above his heart in July 2011. What his pediatrician thought was a heart murmur ended up being a disease that froze the Geiser family in their tracks.
“Until they say the words 'cancer,' you just are completely in denial," Jordon's mother, Angel Geiser, said. "Then once they say that, that’s all you hear. You hear 'cancer.' It is a complete devastation to you and your family. It’s something you drop everything to deal with.”
The Geisers soon learned that Jordon's type of cancer could be defeated. Angel Geiser remembers doctors telling them that 70 percent of children diagnosed with large B cell lymphoma survive for five years, with many going on to take back hold of their lives.
In a room full of young cancer patients at the St. Louis Children's Hospital, Jordon was the only one with his type. He was the luckiest child in a room full of unlucky children, not all of whom are still living today.
It was in that room that Jordon would lie awake at nights, thinking about the football, baseball and basketball games he used to enjoy.
"All I could do was sit there and do nothing," he said. "I hated it because I loved sports."
The quiet nights followed busy days of chemotherapy. In addition to constant scans and procedures, nurses helped Jordon walk to savor the little strength he had left. They helped him walk regularly up until the day he was able to do so on his own.
“I think he just saw it as another competition," his father, Kenny Geiser, said. "He likes to compete no matter what it is. He took it on like a mountain to climb and he was going to get to the top.”
Jordon began regaining strength quickly as the winter arrived. Though he was still completing his regular chemotherapy, Jordon was finally able to return to the basketball courts in December, five months after the diagnosis. When the spring arrived a few months later, he got back to playing baseball.
Jordon was back on the diamond Friday at the Show-Me State Games. He competed in the games last weekend as a basketball player. The games were one of the many competitions he had to miss in 2011 due to the diagnosis.
On Friday, Jordan was back to leading off and playing left field. He was enjoying the game he loves with the teammates who never left.
Playing isn't quite the same as it once was, Jordon said. It won't be until he's able to remove the port that juts out of his chest near his left shoulder blade. For now, he has to constantly worry about a ball hitting the one scar he has from his eight months of recovery.
Next Friday, doctors will remove the port and send Jordon back on his way to life as an everyday 11-year-old boy.
The scar will be gone, and all that will remain of Jordan's battle with cancer will be the story of how he did it.