Straughn freshman fighting CML

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 9, 2014


After three doctor’s visits and three different medical diagnoses, Straughn freshman Gordie Cartwright finally found out what he was up against.

Cartwright, who in the spring of 2010 won the national cornbread title, was recently diagnosed with CML – chronic myelogenous leukemia.

CML is cancer that starts inside the bone marrow and causes an uncontrolled growth of immature cells that make a certain type of white blood cell called myeloid cells.

Cartwright’s mom, Christy, said this week that he had not been feeling well and had made three trips to doctors.

“The first time was for a rash,” she said. “Then, he was diagnosed with bronchitis, and the third week for a double ear infection.”

Christy said that Gordie and her husband, Rick, were at a ballgame and Gordie started coughing up blood.

“I told them that wasn’t unusual for bronchitis,” she said. “After the game, he started passing blood.”

Rick took Gordie to the emergency room in Andalusia, where it was determined that his white blood count was 176,000.

“I asked them to take him to Pensacola because I was in Orange Beach,” she said. “We found out that he had all the symptoms of CML.”

Gordie underwent a bone marrow biopsy on Sept. 22 to confirm he was indeed positive for CML.

He spent a week in PIC, and when doctors get his blood counts down, he’ll have to take special medications for the rest of his life.

“There is no cure for CML,” Christy said. “He’s always had allergies, and we always say that’s usually what it is. He had been very weak. He would get off the bus and go to bed.”

Now, Gordie must have blood drawn on Mondays and Thursdays, and they must make the trek south to Pensacola on Fridays.

Overall, Christy said her son has never been down, despite missing marching season.

His medicine costs nearly $11,000 for one month, and thankfully, most of that is covered, Christy said.

Due to his immune system, Gordie is not able to go to school right now, but Christy said Straughn teachers have been great.

“He’s doing his school work from home,” she said.