Ashleigh Spiers will tell you that it's the little things that help her son, 8-year-old Colin Bales, stay strong in his battle against stage 3 Burkitt's lymphoma, a rare form of cancer.
But sometimes the big things help, too.
Spiers said she was at The Blind Tiger in Bay St. Louis on Sunday when she received one of those "big things" — a special video message for her son from country music star and "American Idol" host Luke Bryan. In the video, Bryan tells Colin to "keep fighting" and that he hopes to one day take him "hunting and fishing."
"When Colin first watched the video, he didn't know who it was a for a minute because Luke Bryan was wearing a hat and sunglasses," Spiers said. "But when he realized it was Luke, he couldn't stop smiling."
A country music fan
Colin was diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma at the beginning of March.
"The cancer is very rare and it's aggressive, but the treatment is even more aggressive," Spiers said. "It has a high remission rate, but we haven't gotten there — yet."
She said she estimates Colin has spent at least 50 nights in the hospital since his diagnosis.
"When you're in and out of the hospital that much, you have to find ways to keep him entertained," Spiers said.
One of the ways Colin found entertainment and relief was through making videos, his mother said.
"Colin loves country music — he's a redneck through and through," Spiers said. "We filmed him singing Bryan's 'Huntin', Fishin' and Lovin' Every Day' as a way to pass some time, and we posted it to Colin's Facebook page."
Spiers said one of her friends in Nashville saw the video.
"She has some connections in Nashville and she said she was going to get it to Luke Bryan," Spiers said. "We never thought it would happen, but it did."
Fighting the battle
Spiers said Colin is currently resting at his home in Hancock County.
"He has to go to Ochsner in New Orleans a couple of times a week to get his blood levels checked and to get transfusions if he needs them," she said. "But his spirits are high and he's fighting it with everything he's got."
Battling a rare disorder is nothing new for Spiers — she said her mother died of a rare muscle disease and her stepmother has a rare form of breast cancer.
"We having Colin checked for the disease that my mom died from to make sure that it's not genetic," she said. "But he's fighting hard and he hopes to be fishing and hunting again soon — in fact, we're hoping to do a Make A Wish with Luke Bryan to take Colin hunting or fishing."