During Journey, 12-Year-Old Drake Gives Back

Drake McKane, center, a 12-year old Mayville resident, was diagnosed with leukemia on Nov. 17, 2017. A year later, McKane continues his treatment and recently gave back to other children cancer patients at Oishei Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. Submitted photo

MAYVILLE — Debbie McKane said the act of connecting, building and snapping the Lego pieces eases her son’s mind and lets him forget about cancer at least for while.

A year ago today, 12-year old Drake McKane of Mayville was diagnosed with leukemia, a form of cancer that affects a person’s blood and bone marrow. The year-long journey has included treatment every week, but one thing that helps McKane through the ongoing process is playing with Legos. On Friday, he was able to share his self-help activity with other children diagnosed with cancer.

McKane and his family delivered more than 150 boxes of Lego sets and 60 stuffed animals to children diagnosed with cancer at Oishei Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.

Debbie McKane said her son is generally in positive spirits living with leukemia and recently decided to give back to other people in need. After receiving support from family members and the community when Drake McKane was diagnosed — a tough time for the McKane’s — the family thought donating to other children diagnosed with cancer was the right thing to do.

“It was shocking, heartbreaking,” Debbie McKane said of initially hearing the diagnosis. “It felt like our world was tipped upside down.”

The 12-year old Mayville boy was diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, the most common form of leukemia. It was also determined that he possessed what’s referred to as the Philadelphia chromosome. The abnormality is observed when part of chromosome nine transfers into chromosome 22, according to the National Cancer Institute’s Dictionary of Cancer Terms. The changed chromosome 22 is referred to as the Philadelphia chromosome. Debbie McKane said the abnormality makes it more difficult for her son to recover from leukemia and subsequent treatment.

But, despite being faced with these obstacles, Drake McKane remains positive, his mother said.

“He knows he’s not alone,” she said.

On Friday, Drake McKane, accompanied by his mother, father, brother and sister, wasn’t alone — nor were many other children inside the hospital. Drake McKane delivered boxes of Legos and stuffed animals on the 12th floor. Other floors were later treated to the donations as well.

Why Legos?

“I just found that Legos are pretty calming and relaxing for him,” she said of her son. “They get ‘chemo brain,’ as the doctor’s call it. They get forgetfull. It’s just so relaxing to do this and it helps because they have to actually concentrate. It helps mind wise as well as a form of physical therapy for his hands.”

“It helps probably because it keeps their mind content,” she continued. “It takes them away from thinking about the fact they have cancer 24/7.”

The collection of donations began after she posted on the “Drake’s Journey” Facebook page about the idea. The fundraiser eventually incorporated stuffed animals, too. Through the Facebook page, family and additional support, the McKane’s were able to curate the end total amount of donations. Drake McKane and his mother hope the donations of Lego blocks can help ease the mind’s of children at least for as long as the build lasts.

“For Drake, he’s in Lego world when he’s building,” Debbie McKane said. “He’s not thinking about the fact he has cancer. He’s fully concentrated on building.”

Drake McKane is expected to undergo treatment for at least one more year. Debbie McKane also expected the family would do another round of donations this year as well, and was open to making it an annual endeavor.