JACKSON, Tenn.– On a gravel road in Jackson, Tennessee, if you blink, you might just miss seeing 17-year-old Chandler Roberson quickly running by. He’s an amazing high school track star who’s recently been in the race of his life.
The Lexington High School track team athlete is on pace to add to his already impressive medal count of roughly 50 medals.
But two years ago, Chandler ran into two health hurdles.
“I don’t know…it was all of a sudden, I was like working out and my stomach started hurting,” he said.
He and his parents, John and Kelli Roberson, were blindsided by what was coming.
“Our family had COVID in December of 2020,” Kelli said.
“My dad was put on a ventilator that night for COVID and passed away. Kelli had just gotten diagnosed with IBS from COVID that day and we took him down to Le Bonheur at the E.R,” John said.
About a month later, in January of 2021, and almost out of nowhere, Chandler started having severe medical symptoms and broke out into a severe rash.
“He was sick…using the restroom, a lot of blood. I was very worried about him and didn’t know what was going on,” his father said.
He was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease.
“It was very overwhelming. We were grieving and we were also dealing with his new diagnosis. God, we had to give it to God,” his mother said.
After being put on several medications, Chandler started feeling better.
“But in May the symptoms started coming back. So, they put him in the hospital for about a week and flushed him with prednisone,” Kelli said.
It was a difficult time for their family.
“It’s very difficult seeing your teenager on IV and the desperate look on his face of why me? Ulcerative Colitis is a tough disease,” John said.
Chandler briefly improved and went into remission, but he got sick again in November and spent five more weeks at Le Bonheur.
“The time that he went in on November 2021 he weighed 137 and he came out the 24th weighing 111. He lost a lot of weight,” his father recalled.
“They even had a surgery team come and talk about possibly colon removal. That scared us. We were really, really scared at that point,” Kelli said.
Doctors determined he had an infection called a CMV, which can be deadly.
“For people with UC it can be weeks and even months leading to their death and I thought we might have been walking into that area just watching him wither away,” John said.
The Robersons leaned on other relatives, friends posting encouraging words on social media, and on their faith in God praying for patience, kindness and hope.
“Yes, being the man and being a fixer, and I couldn’t fix it and I felt hopeless and I had to pray for hope through Jesus Christ and ask for patience,” John said.
Their prayers were answered. On Christmas Eve and after weeks of specialized care, Chandler was able to leave Le Bonheur. A short time later, he was well enough to return to school and to even compete in track again.
Today, Chandler feels like a champion.
“I feel probably the best I’ve felt in the past couple of years. So, it’s nice,” Chandler said.
His parents say he’s doing great because of Le Bonheur.
“I do have to brag the doctors and nurses, I mean you go out the in the hallway and the doctors will be in a group coming up with a plan every day,” John said. “I feel very blessed to have that team supporting them.”
These days when Chandler is not making a splash at the pool hanging out with his family. He’s showing off his basketball skills.
But even more important, Chandler has crossed the finish line to good health. He says its all because of the exceptional care he received from his winning team of doctors, nurses, and staff at Le Bonheur.
“Probably just thank them for getting me through what I went through just being there for me and getting me better,” Chandler said.