Laurie Strongin's son Henry was diagnosed with fanconi anemia, a disease that often proves fatal. Despite the devastating diagnosis, Henry maintained a positive attitude, inspiring all who met him.
Laurie and her husband try everything to find a cure, and in "Saving Henry," she chronciled her family's fight for its son.
Read an excerpt of the book below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.
Henry's Favorite Things
His girlfriend Bella
Bathing by candlelight
Wearing (and eating) candy necklaces
M&Ms (plain, not peanut)
The list of Henry's favorite things is lengthy and wide-ranging. Marbles, watches, and Tom and Jerry cartoons. Batman, Cal Ripken, and a Pokémon named Charizard. Skittles, chocolate croissants, and garlic bread. Having a lemonade stand, taking a bath by candlelight, and making telephone calls.
But at the top of the list of Henry's favorite things is a little girl who is as beautiful as her name, Bella. As Henry got sicker and sicker year after year, his list of favorite things grew to include more unusual items: electric blankets, portable urinals, root beer-flavored anesthesia.
Still, Bella Herold, the love of Henry's life, was always, without question at the top of his list.
Henry met Bella in September 1998, on one of his first days as a member of the Sunflower class at a preschool in northwest Washington, DC. Bella was the teacher's helper, the teacher being her mother. By the time I arrived to pick him up, Henry was in love. At two and three respectively, Henry and Bella's dates were supervised. And there were lots of them. Sometimes she came over to our house to play soccer, or tag, or to go out for an ice cream cone. Sometimes he went to her house for pizza or swimming, or to meet her new hamster. Each October, they celebrated their birthdays together. Henry gave her jewelry. Bella gave him Batman t-shirts.
"Mom, come see what we did!" Henry yelled one afternoon from the front porch where he and Bella were shooting stomp rockets into the street and over a neighbor's house. "We wrote our names, and Jack's too!" To this day, the bricks on our front porch are covered with faded pink, blue, and yellow chalk advertising, "Henry," "Jack," and "Bella," alongside hearts, stars, and a few simple math equations.
Henry spent a lot of time with Bella, her mom Liane, and her sisters. One warm, summer day in June of 2000, Bella invited Henry, now age four, to go swimming at the Inverness Recreation Club in her suburban Maryland neighborhood.
"See you later, alligator," I called out to Henry, as my husband, Allen, and I drove away.
"While, while, crocodile," he replied.
According to Bella's mom Liane, Henry and the girls swam and played in the pool for a long time. When they were done, Henry jumped out of the pool and took off his wet bathing suit, leaving him naked, in close proximity to the girls and all the other swimmers and non-swimmers at the pool that afternoon.
"Mom," Bella whispered insistently, "Henry's naked. Get him to put his clothes on, or at least a towel."
Liane offered up both possibilities, to which Henry replied, "It's okay. I'm good."