The Key Word Is Baseball

josh_warren_small.jpgJosh Warren is happiest when he’s on a baseball field. “That’s what I love most, by far,” Warren said with a wide grin. It’s that love for the game that helped him to survive the most difficult time in his young life. He was 7-years-old when he was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia – a rare,
but serious disorder causing the bone marrow to fail to produce blood
cells.


By JOEL McNEECE
Josh Warren is happiest when he’s on a baseball field.
“That’s what I love most, by far,” Warren said with a wide grin.
It’s that love for the game that helped him to survive the most difficult time in his young life.
He was 7-years-old when he was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia – a rare, but serious disorder causing the bone marrow to fail to produce blood cells.
“I was too young to really know what was going on,” Warren said. “But I was smart enough to know something wasn’t right.”
After exhaustive testing, the best solution was determined to be a bone marrow transfusion, and Josh’s younger brother Jayme, who was four at the time, was identified as the best match.
“The doctors said there was a 90% recovery rate with his brother being the donor,” said Nancy Warren, Josh and Jayme’s grandmother. “The match was six for six.”
josh_warren.jpgJosh and his parents, Lee and Daphne Warren of Calhoun City, along with brother Jayme and sister Jayden, spent weeks at St. Jude in Memphis to prepare for the bone marrow infusion. Their stay would continue for several months afterwards as Josh would require daily blood work.
“I remember at St. Jude it seemed like everywhere you turned there were doctors and nurses,” Josh said. “It was a big place in a big town.”
Josh recalled a nurse named James who was among his best friends during the stay.
“The first time I went for blood work I had four or five different women come in and try, but they never could get it,” Josh said. “Then James came in, and on one try found the vein and got it done. After getting stuck so many times and it hurting so bad, I really appreciated James from then on.”
The tests were long and extensive. Josh underwent chemotherapy for several days at a time as part of the process.
“When the doctors would talk to my parents I could see that they were upset,” Josh said. “I can’t stand seeing my parents or grandparents upset.”
When things were at their worst, Josh and his dad Lee developed a key word to try and cheer each other up.
“Every time I got down on myself my dad would look at me and say ‘baseball,’” Josh said. “We always had baseball, and that kept me motivated to get well and go play ball with my friends again.”
Almost nine years since the operation, Josh, now 16, and Jayme, now 13, are both doing fine and as active on the baseball field as ever. Josh starts for the Calhoun City High School Wildcats.
“Sometimes when I’m playing in a game and there’s not a lot of pressure I get to thinking about how lucky I am,” Josh said. “I feel really blessed to be where I am and playing ball.”
Josh said he and his brother are close, although they do have their moments like all siblings.
“Sometimes when I get mad at my brother?I think about him and if I didn’t have his bone marrow,” Josh said. “Who knows?”
Josh continues to live for playing baseball and dreams of possibly playing at Delta State. If that doesn’t work out, he said he wants to go to school somewhere to study sports medicine.
He’s in the kitchen at the family business, Nancy’s Restaurant, south of the Calhoun City square frying catfish every Friday night and waiting tables on Saturday nights. If he’s not there, he’s most often playing baseball.
He still has to return to St. Jude every September for three days worth of tests, but thus far everything has been clear.
“I don’t feel like any of this held me back as far as athletics or my growth,” Josh said. “I’m right there with all my buddies. This experience has given me a great testimony, however, that I think the Lord wants me to share with others.”

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