Celebrating more than Christmas

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 25, 1999

Shane Jones fidgets on the couch.

Saturday, December 25, 1999

Shane Jones fidgets on the couch.

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"We would’ve just wheeled that big old tree down the hallway, wouldn’t we, Shane?" Patty asks with a slight chuckle.

Shane grins an 11-year-old’s grin, fixing his eyes easily on his mother’s.

He spins a hospital mask around his finger by its elastic strings.

The two, plus dad, Shawn, spent 81 days together in a Columbus Children’s Hospital room, between September and November, as the Ironton Middle School student recovered from a bone marrow transplant.

Now home, Shane isn’t living proof of a Christmas miracle, just proof that blessings come in the form of family ties.

"We make the best out of every situation," Mrs. Jones said, smiling again. "You grow and learn as a family, despite the gripes."

And, like his coach, the late Jeff Carty, Shane says life means no quitting.

You have to stick together like a team, he said.

Doctors diagnosed Shane with leukemia shortly after he turned 4 years old. Three years of chemotherapy followed. Then, more doctors and visits and tests.

Then came the catheters, or IV tubes, in his chest, for when he needed medicines and to help in the transplant operations. And there was the time in complete isolation in a sterilized hospital room.

Home seemed like another country away during those long visits to Columbus, Mrs. Jones said.

Doctors even hinted that Shane would not be released before December. Later, they relented, citing his progress as positive.

"He was determined to be well," said his father, Shawn, adding that the future All Star already had his bat picked out for spring training.

"We may not be out on opening day, but we’ll be out there at one point in the season," he said.

Grinning, Shane nods his head to emphasize his dad’s point.

Shane’s illness has not been easy on his family either, especially his sister, Sara, who stayed with relatives during hospital visits, Mrs. Jones said.

She’s growing independent, but if it weren’t for family members and friends willing to rearrange their work schedules and social calendars to help them, then the family would not be in the shape it’s in today, she said.

"Anyway, we have him home, everybody’s together, haven’t got much Christmas shopping done, but ," she said, a grin and look at Shane finishing her sentence.

"He’s always been home on Christmas, though, through it all, in some way," Shawn Jones added. "It’s a blessing. We’re usually griping as we put up the tree, but not this year. We had a ball."

Day 100 of the transplant operation is one of the "milestones," according to doctors, and that comes Jan. 2, so the family asked a special Christmas blessing yesterday, Mrs. Jones said.

Then, they will continue to take life day by day and treat each one as gifts, she said.

"A lot of times, your kids will say, ‘Can we make cookies?’ and you’ll say, ‘No, I don’t have time.’ Now, I think yeah, we do have time, because you make it."