Kameron Keefer stares at the TV game-show, laughs at Bob Barker and his retro, '70s sets.
The 15-year-old, clad in his baseball team's royal purple T-shirt, is reclined in a hospital bed bundled up in a sports-themed fleece blanket.
The Tokay High School sophomore - a first baseman, pitcher, outfielder and football player - is battling cancer in his testicles and lungs.
On Thursday morning, his parents, Harvey and Jill Keefer, and uncle Steve Keefer, pore over pages of questions they will ask their three-doctor team of oncologists. They wait for 11:30 a.m., when they hope they'll get the green light to bring their boy home from the Kaiser Permanente Hospital.
After lunch they find out the doctors want their son, who they call Kam, to finish another round of antibiotics. He might not see his own bedroom until early next week. And he'll only be home a week before his next hospital stay.
"They all say 'If you get any kind of cancer, this (testicular cancer) is the one to have.'" Harvey Keefer said.
"It's been the opposite with us. We've had nothing but a nightmare. It's been literally, scary."
Kam has not only endured surgery and chemotherapy, he has also had to deal with a rare medical condition associated with chemotherapy and his doctor died in a tragic accident.
Harvey Keefer said his son first came to him in May complaining of pain that appeared to be that of a sports injury.
"Kam came to me and said he was hurting," he said, explaining the first signs. "When you play sports, you're used to playing banged-up."
If it weren't for their oldest son Kyle's friend beating testicular cancer three years ago, the Keefers may not have checked into Kam's continued pain. The Keefers have four other children, Kyle, 20, Kevin, 18, Kimberly, 13, and Konner, 11.
They brought Kameron to the doctor the morning of May 16. By 3 p.m. he was prepped for surgery, to get rid of the tumors. Two weeks later he got out of the hospital, and scored the winning run in the age 14-15 Babe Ruth championship game at Kofu Park.
Later, he spent a week in Novato at Camp Okizu, a getaway for young cancer patients.
But then Kam found more lumps.
The Keefers' doctor, William Baker of Stockton, wanted to operate, after Kam's one-week vacation. But on Aug. 20, Baker drowned in the Delta.
The new oncologists commenced an aggressive treatment - four rounds of chemotherapy followed by two weeks of hospitalization.
After the first round of chemotherapy, Kameron developed a rare complication called typhlitis - inflammation of parts of the large intestine and abdomen that could cause them to burst, Harvey Keefer said.
In 2005, the Oncology Nursing Society called cancer, aggressive chemo and typhlitis a "deadly trio." It's so rare many nurses and doctor's don't recognize it right away. Half of those patients with the trio don't make it.
After six days in ICU, Kameron moved downstairs into Kaiser's pediatric ward, where he could hook up his XBox and talk on a cell phone.
"Down here … it's one more step to go home," Kam Keefer said.
He said he is hoping for Xzibit of MTV's "Pimp My Ride" to do a Make A Wish-style appearance, fixing up his hand-me-down Dodge Ram, the family's old work truck, which suffers from a blown-out engine and body damage.
About testicular cancerThe Keefers also hope to spread the word about testicular cancer.
"Part of the problem is guys 'can't' talk about it," Jill Keefer said.
Testicular cancer typically develops in one or both testicles in young men. During 2006, about 8,250 new U.S. cases will be diagnosed; an estimated 370 men will die of it. The exact cause is not known.
Most of the time a lump on the testicle is the first sign but some cancers
may not cause symptoms until after reaching an advanced stage.
Source: American Cancer Society, at http://www.cancer.org.
Jill Keefer, a kindergarten teacher at Larson Elementary, sets small goals.
She hopes to fix a laptop so he can at least check his MySpace.com page.
"Things change day to day, but he possibly will do another round of chemo in four weeks," said Jill Keefer's best friend, a family friend of 17 years, Jenny Gilley, who is spearheading some fund-raising efforts.
"I truly believe in faith and the power of prayer, there are so many people supporting us. It's faith that gets us through this," Harvey Keefer said.
At tonight's homecoming game against St. Mary's, Tokay's players will decorate their helmets with number "16" stickers. Jill Keefer's kindergarten teaching partner is Chris Franks, wife of St. Mary's football coach Tony Franks.
Both sides are planning fund-raisers - cans for donations will be set up at the gates. At halftime the crowds can snap their Halloween light sticks, and buy tickets for a pancake breakfast scheduled for early December.
In one week, a trust fund set up at the Bank of Lodi has collected about $1,500. Contributions may be sent in care of Jenny Gilley, 44 N. Wellington Lane; Lodi, CA 95242.
First published: Friday, October 27, 2006