A day to smile

Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal

Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal

It was a good day, and for David Koury those haven't been common in the past year.

On Saturday, he hobbled out of his Carson City home into a limousine waiting to whisk him and his family away for a morning of shopping for his favorite things.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northern Nevada had planned each detail to make his version of the perfect day come true. The first stop was GameStop to pick up Call of Duty 4, along with many other video games. Then it was off to Best Buy for a new laptop computer, then to Wal-Mart and finally his favorite restaurant, Locals Barbecue.

David, 14, smiled often during the trip, chatting and goofing around with his brother, Jeremy, and sisters Jennifer and Rachel. That smile proved contagious to his parents, Bryon and Kristi. They haven't seen it a lot since his diagnosis with osteosarcoma last October. In fact, Kristi had to think hard to remember when he was this happy, and all she could settle on was each time they've gotten into the car to return home to Carson City after chemotherapy treatments in Oakland.

"It takes a lot to get him excited," she said. "He's been so depressed."

Osteosarcoma is a rare and virulent type of bone cancer, and it has spread to David's lungs. He's had four surgeries in the past year.

"You wouldn't believe what he's been through," said his father.

The diagnosis came after David complained of a sore knee they first thought was merely a sprain. After the shock of the diagnosis, they have made many trips to Children's Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, where he's been receiving treatments. The family knows that doctors are unable to tell them his long-term prognosis is good.

Bryon and Kristi have been amazed at the strength and bravery they've seen in their son, who never complains even though his family and doctors know the pain and nausea he feels are great.

"He's not fine, but he always says he is," Kristi said.

Through it all, David has managed to keep a sense of humor.

The shirt he picked out to wear on his shopping trip said, "I'm on chemo, my dad's just bald."

His dad corrected that he still had some hair left when he decided to shave the rest to show support for his son.

"Half of it's sympathy," Bryon said.

Even his two sisters, Jennifer and Rachel, wanted to shave their heads in support of David, whose hair fell out following chemotherapy treatments. David wouldn't let them.

Before he was diagnosed, he enjoyed swimming, dirt bikes and video games. The dirt bike is gone, but he still has the video games. After Saturday, lots of video games.

He briefly considered requesting a Disney cruise for his wish, but came to the realization that his favorite place is at home, with his family. So a shopping trip to spend more than $2,000 from Make-A-Wish was perfect. GameStop gave him another $400 to use, and Wal-Mart chipped in $100.

Ahead are more chemotherapy treatments (his most recent one was Wednesday and his next is in September), and more surgeries. The family is hopeful, but realistic. That hope has been buoyed by support from their church, First Baptist in Minden, and by Bryon and Jeremy's co-workers, in the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Motor Vehicles, respectively.

"He's in the fight of his life," Kristi said. "He doesn't have a choice ... he has to fight."

But, for one day, at least, he could think about something else, and the smiles came easy.

- Contact editor Barry Ginter at bginter@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1221.


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