BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - In the rough and tumble world of preschool boys, a trip to the emergency room is all too common.
For three-year-old Grayson Hernandez, that first trip came just before the new year in 2011 at the tender age of five months. His mother Tara thought they were there for something simple. When an oncologist walked into their room, her world stopped.
The news was bad. Neuroblastoma. Nine centimeters. Stage 4. Stage 3 if they were lucky.
The tumor was in Grayson's abdomen growing near the base of his spine. It was too big to remove. Little Grayson had his first dose of chemotherapy on New Year's Eve.
"I would get scared," Tara said. "And I would just hold him while he was getting chemo, and would almost feel peace. His eyes would say, 'It's going to be okay.'"
And things did get a little better at least. Doctors determined his tumor was not Stage 4 after all. Grayson had a slightly better chance at life.
"You want to do everything you can, as a parent, to protect your child," Grayson's dad Gareth Hernandez said. "But in this case, there's nothing that we could do ourselves. You have to put your trust in God."
That good day became a better day when the family learned that the LSU football team was in town preparing for the National Championship game. Grayson got a visit from the coach himself.
"That was a fist-pumping good day," said Tara. "He must have thought we were crazy. Here we were in the hospital with a child with cancer. We had the fight song going. He held Gray. It was probably one of the best days we had."
Grayson eventually endured four rounds of chemotherapy, but Grayson, whose big blue eyes and energetic smile could light up Tiger Stadium on game night, is a survivor.
"He's a trooper," said his mom. "It's part of who he is. He's a tough little guy."
And even better, Grayson's oncologist found a neurosurgeon who was willing to try to remove the tumor. He got all but a 2-centimeter piece.
And now, more than two years later, he and his favorite coach have been re-united by a complete stranger.
"I never thought it would be this big," said Kenan Irving. "I thought that I would do it, and it would be done. It would have been my thing."
It is The Cancer Journal Project. You see, Irving knows cancer, too. His wife Ashley died of stomach cancer two years ago. Through six months of treatment, Ashley kept copious notes on her feelings, her life and her treatment. She wrote them all down in a multi-colored notebook.
Over the past six months, Kenan has been releasing bits and pieces of that journal online to raise money to grant wishes through the Make A Wish Foundation. Grayson is his fourth Make-A-Wish Kid.
Tuesday was another good day. Not just because Grayson, his brother Gareth and two cousins got to watch the Tigers practice and meet some of their favorites like Malachi Dupre. He also found out his cancer is in remission. He and his family look forward to the day when, instead of watching, Grayson may practice on this field -- cancer free.