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“He’s as tough as nails,” dad says of son with leukemia

Family to tell story on WSB’s Care-A-Thon

Lowe Family

Family Photo

Lisa and Ryker Lowe and their three sons. Harlan, center, was diagnosed with leukemia in March. The Lowes will help raise money to look for a cure by sharing their story live on the annual WSB Care-a-Thon on Thursday, July 26 at 11:10 a.m.

Ryker Lowe said if his four-year-old son Harlan wasn’t bald and thin from chemotherapy treatments, people would never be able to tell he has leukemia. 

“He’s tough as a sack of nails,” said Lowe, who along with his wife Lisa received the devastating diagnosis in March of this year.

         “He never boo-hoos, and has handled things so well. He brings so much life to our family. He’s happy and smart, and an old soul. You can talk to him like an adult.”

Before this spring, the Lowes were busy being normal parents of three young children, raising Harlan and his two siblings, one aged three and the youngest who was not even a month old at the time of the diagnosis. Their life was turned on its head after Harlan fell and his health deteriorated rapidly. 

“He’s tough, but he screamed like he had a bone hanging out,” Mr. Lowe said. 

Over the next few days Harlan’s complexion became pale and he experienced fevers that waxed and waned. He was sore all over and couldn’t get off the floor. His parents took him to the pediatrician and the emergency room twice with no answers. 

“One of the docs in the boxes told us something was wrong, but he wasn’t sure what,” Lowe said. 

By March 3rd the Lowes were at the end of their rope and took their son to the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.  

“We decided that was enough,” Mr. Lowe said. “He was as pale as a sheet.” 

Initially, doctors at the Atlanta hospital thought Harlan might have rhinovirus, but on March 4 at 12:30 a.m. they received the news that their son had B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or “ALL.” 

“All they said was I’m sorry to tell you but your son has leukemia,” Lowe said. “It’s like time stops and you step out of your body. I knew what they said, but I didn’t think they were talking to me at first, then all we had heard was ‘your son is going to die.’” 

Lowe said it took him a few days to wrap his head around the situation, but “being a dad you have to move on and stay strong and hold things together.” 

Chemo treatments started a few days later on March 6th. The Lowes are still busy being parents, busier with treatments expected to last three years, but life is different now, more focused. 

“We already had our priorities in order, but when something like this happens the focus gets laser sharp,” he said. “We are focused on getting our son better, and letting the doctors do their work, and if it wasn’t for our parents, our family and friends, the people at Jasper Jeep, I mean, we don’t just have 100 or 1,000 people praying for us, we’ve got thousands and some I don’t even know – Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, we’ve got all the religions praying to the All Mighty for someone they don’t know, and that’s a pretty big deal. It’s so humbling.”

Lowe said he thanks God that with treatment, Harlan has nearly 100 percent chance of survival. The Lowes were so moved and impressed by the care they received at Children’s they want to give back and help support what they say is admirable, selfless work. In an effort to raise money for Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the Lowes will be sharing their story live on the annual WSB Care-a-Thon on Thursday, July 26 at 11:10 a.m.. Donations made to the WSB Care-a-Thon will help fund family support services, research and the fellowship program at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

The WSB Care-a-Thon features stories of hope and inspiration from Aflac Cancer Center patients, families and staff from throughout Georgia. With the help of WSB hosts Scott Slade, Clark Howard, Herman Cain, Neal Boortz, Erick Erickson, Eric Von Haessler and Mark Arum, the annual Care-a-Thon has raised more than $21 million to-date for the Aflac Cancer Center.

  “Everyone there wants to help these kids, that’s their number one goal,” Lowe said. “Anybody can have a job and just go to work and go home, but they put so much care into your child. They want these kids to be better.” 

All donations go to help kids being treated at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The link for online donations is