The Candy Man Can
- Beckham Goodhale, 7, has made a name for himself passing out candy to patients and staff Norton Children’s Cancer Institute. The doctors and nurses call him “The Candy Man.”
- Goodhale is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which he was diagnosed with in December 2020.
- When Goodhale was having a hard time meeting new people, his parents started encouraging him to pass out candy at the hospital. Now, it’s become a tradition, and Goodhale has a whole new sense of confidence.
The boy was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in December 2020. Now, it’s not a surprise when the 7-year-old walks into the hospital with a bucket of candy. Goodale has become a part of the Norton Children’s Cancer Institute community. He even earned himself a hospital employee badge making his title official: “The Candy Man.”Read More
The Courier Journal got a peek into Goodale’s process as he was gearing up for Valentine’s Day. At his home in Charlestown, Indiana, the family room had been turned into a candy-packing station. In addition to a bouquet of chocolate roses for Goodale’s doctors and nurses, he had assembled a huge bag of toys and treats for each child on the oncology floor.
Goodale would be passing out candy, but he wouldn’t be able to eat any himself. For him, this Valentine’s Day was marked by an arduous day of treatment. After a full day without food, the boy was set to have a spinal tap and chemotherapy treatment that would last seven hours.
Goodale is not always the most talkative seven-year-old, but giving out candy has given him his own way of expressing his gratitude and affection. When asked how he thinks his recipients will react to his Valentine’s Day gifts, Goodale said, “They’re going to be happy.” When he was asked why he enjoys bringing candy to the hospital, he said, “My nurses—they help me.”
Goodale’s Cancer Battle
In December 2020, the boy’s doctors initially attributed his sickness to a virus, but with another checkup, he was diagnosed with leukemia. When his mother first learned of his diagnosis, she was so upset that she couldn’t tell him. But Goodale noticed her crying. She said she had stubbed her toe.
Dr. Olalekan Oluwole on how ALL affects the body, and the type of treatments that work to fight it.
Goodale’s treatment plan has him taking oral chemotherapy every day. He has spent more than 60 days in the hospital so far, and over his first year of treatment, he had to visit the hospital twice a week. The boy’s cancer battle has been socially isolating, and his parents initially started bringing candy for him to give out at the hospital as a way to help him open up to his healthcare workers. More than a year later, The Candy Man has become a staple of Norton Children’s Cancer Institute.
Passing out candy has given Goodale a new way to practice social skills, approaching people he might not otherwise be comfortable talking to. “He is so sweet and so thoughtful, and he is so strong and he’s just so caring,” his mother said. “He’s very energetic now, and we love to see that. That’s something we didn’t have six months ago.”
What is ALL?
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow, where the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes — a type of white blood cell. These blood cells are critical to the immune system, as they help fight infections by attacking bacteria, germs, and viruses. Signs of ALL typically include fever as well as unexplained bruising. The disease is diagnosed through bone marrow and blood tests. Leukemia is the most common cancer diagnosed in young children, and three out of four pediatric cancer patients will be diagnosed with ALL.
Chemotherapy for ALL: A Survivor’s Experience
Pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia survivor Justice Wexler is grateful that he beat the disease, but he’s not afraid to admit that chemo was one of the hardest experiences of his life. Now, as a side effect of his treatment, he is dealing with heart disease.
“He’s a cancer survivor, but now we’re dealing with heart disease,” Justice’s mother, Jayne Wexler, tells SurvivorNet. “This is because of the chemo. Chemo induced cardiomyopathy.”
ALL survivor Justice Wexler breaks down the chemotherapy experience.
Despite this side effect and the challenge of going through chemo itself, Justice says he feels stronger because of his cancer journey. He encourages children facing similar diagnoses to be proud of their bravery, and to use their experience to put other setbacks in perspective.
“If you’re ashamed of what you’ve been through, don’t be,” Justice says. “It makes you stronger as a person. While I would trade what happened to me in an instant, like if I’m failing in school, whatever, it’s like, I beat cancer.”