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Son's cancer bonds Oklahoma family

“Oklahoma's Most Inspiring Couples” 2011: Oklahoma City couple Ted and Lydia Leslie went on quest to save their cancer-stricken son and live “one day at a time.”
BY DAVID ZIZZO dzizzo@opubco.com Published: March 13, 2011
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Whether it was the procedures, the persistence, the prayers, or something else — the Leslies might never know — but something worked. Today, Nick, now 12, leads the normal life of an active preteen. Although he remains on a strict regimen of an investigational drug, at times taking up to 27 pills a day, the boy is more athletically gifted than his siblings, Mitchell, 10, and Lauren, 14, and he enjoys basketball, baseball, water skiing and snow skiing.

“He excels in all sports,” Lydia said. “He's a very tough boy.”

The ordeal changed the Leslie family.

“You realize life is short,” Lydia, 44, said. “You'd better appreciate every minute and every small thing.”

Since meeting in Lubbock, Texas, around 1987 — she a student at Texas Tech and he an Air Force AWACS crew member — the couple had always been close. During their first two months of dating, they looked at wedding rings. They became engaged when Ted took Lydia to dinner and presented a huge romantic card to her.

“He was a very old-fashioned guy,” Lydia said.

The experience with their son brought the family even closer, Ted said. “Family became a whole lot more important.”

So did giving back.

Lydia is always available to comfort and counsel parents going through the same ordeal, and Ted serves on the board of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oklahoma City, which provides lodging for families whose children are in the hospital.

They know the disease might still come back. But faith that it won't is enough for now.

“If it comes back, we'll deal with that then,” Lydia said. “I live one day at a time, and I don't think about the future.”