When Clay was first diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 3, I started a blog called “Following Clay.”  These were in the “blog” days — what I’ve come to think of as the pre social-media days – before posts were short and got a “like” or a smile emoji.

We kept the blog going until two years ago. It was a way to reach friends and family en mass with updates, and it was a way to put words to what was happening.    It is my hope that this feature, “Following Fighters” will become a place where this community can participate by getting to know some of the details of what it is like for parents and kids living with a brain tumor.  Some of the posts will be about our son Clay, but we will invite others to participate.  If you have something to say, please contribute.

Clay is in the hospital as I write this, where he has been for the past week.   When your child is diagnosed with a brain tumor, you hear “late effects” and “collateral damage” and if you are like me, you think that won’t relate to you or your child, and you try not to listen.  As your child ages, the brain tumor demands that you listen.   In the weeks leading up to this hospital stay we saw 6 specialists: gastroenterology, endocrinology, psychology, cardiology, oncology, and physical therapy.   No specialist could answer why Clay is feeling so poorly or failing to thrive, why he has no appetite and his hand is shaking and his balance is  poor.  We are hoping inpatient will provide some answers, and give Clay a respite until the doctors can provide some answers.

  • Karen Posted February 17, 2018 5:15 pm

    Clay , love to you from Sydney, Cate, Ava, Karen and Tod. We miss you. It was so fun filling baby bottles up for my sister’s baby shower with your help. You might have eaten a few M&Ms on the sly, but you filled more bottles than the rest of us combined. Can’t wait to see you again this summer.

    Love, the Reichert’s

  • Michelle Gillick Posted February 17, 2018 5:47 pm

    Hi Clay,

    Mr. & Mrs. Gillick here. I love the jokes on your video!
    I have one for you:

    Can a kangaroo jump higher than the Empire State Building? Yes, it can!
    The Empire State Building can’t jump!

    We love you & hope to see you soon! Please say hi to Grace and your mom & dad.

  • Denise M Galleher Posted February 17, 2018 8:47 pm

    Hi Clay-
    This is one of your mom and dad’s classmates from UR ’85. I live by UR. I have two kids. My son works at country club and my daughter is in college studying to be a teacher. She loves to tell riddles too. I can’t wait to tell her your riddles!!! I bet your riddles make all your friends laugh.
    Keep Smiling !

  • Diane Posted February 18, 2018 1:51 am

    Clay —We miss you in Arlington and your riddles. We are so sorry to hear you are not feeling well lately. We know how strong you are because we have seen you overcome so much more than any human should have too even endure. I watch these Olympians who have worked hard to get to the 2018 games but think of all you have achieved and think you are like an Olympian as you continue to overcome the challenges of have to deal with brain cancer every day!!!

    Clay we are all here to support you as you beat this awful disease and know you will succeed! XXXOO The Tomb Family

  • Laurie Posted February 18, 2018 2:07 am

    Hi Clay, Annie and I have met you a couple of times because Annie is in your sisters class at school. We are both sorry you are in the hospital now. I’m sure you’d rather be somewhere else! But then you are one of the bravest and strongest kids we know and you will get through this. Please do everything the doctors tell you, hug your mom and dad and sister, keep fighting hard to get better. You’ve got this ~ see you again soon. Xoxo, Laurie and Annie Selby

  • Maggie Posted February 18, 2018 4:04 am

    Clay-man! You just can’t stop charming those nurses at the hospital. Forever the warrior. Just heard a quote from the wise British leader Winston Churchill talking during World War II and thought of you. “You’re strong because you are imperfect and you are wise because you doubt and ask questions.” Stay strong and wise my warrior friend. Big bear hug to you, mom, dad and Grace. Tail wags to Hazel. Xo, Maggie and Alec

  • Zizi Sipe Posted February 18, 2018 4:48 pm

    Hi Clay,

    So sorry to hear you have not been feeling well and are in the hospital. I pray the doctors can figure out whats going on and help you feel better soon! I’m inspired by your spirit and positive attitude and know you will overcome each hurdle you face.

    With love and prayers,

  • Sharon Posted February 18, 2018 5:44 pm

    We’ve got to break you out of there! Everyone misses you too much! It’s going to be St. Patrick’s Day in a few weeks and we want to see you handing out shamrock necklaces and stickers at your house. Here’s a few St. Patrick Day riddles for you:
    How is a good friend like a four-leaf clover? They’re hard to find!
    What kind of bow can’t be tied? A rainbow!
    Why do people wear shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day? Regular rocks are too heavy

    Feel better soon! We love you!
    Bernie, Sharon, Roman and Pappy

  • Caroline Hubbell Posted February 18, 2018 9:42 pm

    Hi Clay –
    We are sending you good thoughts and hope that you get to go home soon. Teddy and I were just saying that we hope we can see you soon.
    We love you!

  • Zack Kinsella Posted February 19, 2018 11:57 pm

    What’s up Clay it’s Zack! The Murray Hill carpool gang misses you and can’t wait till your back home making all of us laugh after a long school day. I remember when we had like a million pumpkins in your car right before Halloween. You had to sit on graces lap and I couldn’t even see your head because you were under so many pumpkins.
    Can’t wait to see you soon!

    Q: What do you call a cow that eats your grass?
    A: A lawn moo-er.

  • Donna Parry Posted February 20, 2018 1:40 am

    Clay, This is Donna—your favorite photographer. So sorry to hear you are in the hospital. I asked my Echo for a special joke for you and this is what she came up with: Why did the Wizard get a job as a cook? Because he was good at ‘saucery ‘
    Do I see a smile on your face? Hope you come home soon!

  • Sebastian Kling and Kate Kling Mulcahy Posted February 20, 2018 1:44 am

    Hi Clay: We are so sorry you are in the hospital. Hope you will be out and home soon. Here are some jokes from Sebastian Kling. He loves jokes and wanted to tell you a few!

    Q: What kind of bagel can fly?
    A: A PLAIN bagel!

    Q: Have you heard about that new anti-gravity book?
    A: I haven’t.
    A: well, I can’t seem to put it down.

    Q: What did one hat say to the other hat?
    A; You stay here, I’ll go on ahead!

    Q: Why was 6 afraid o 7?
    A: Because 7 ate 9.

    Q: What is a skeleton musician’s favorite instrument?
    A: A trombone.

    Q: What is Donald Trump’s favorite pet?
    A; A Trumpet
    That one was a Sebby original!

  • Beth Posted February 20, 2018 1:45 am

    Q: What do you call an acid with a bad attitude?
    A: A-Mean-Oh-Acid

    Feel better and know that you have so many people saying prayers and wishing strength and healing and laughter for you.

  • Scott Hatch Posted February 20, 2018 1:46 am

    How do you fix a cracked pumpkin?

    With a pumpkin patch.

    Hang in there Clay!

  • The Becrafts Posted February 20, 2018 1:47 am

    Hi Clay. This is the Becraft Family. We’ve met a few times at the annual Monster Mash Pumpkin Bash. My 3 daughters and 2 sons found some jokes that we hope will cheer you up a bit. We’re thinking of you!

    Q: Why did the man run around his bed?

    Because he was trying to catch up on his sleep!

    Q: What do you call a cow with no legs?

    Ground beef!

    Q: Why did the math book look so sad?

    Because it had so many problems!

    Q: What do you call a pig that knows karate?

    A pork chop!

  • Laurie Posted February 20, 2018 2:06 am

    Ok you asked for it! More corny jokes for today….

    Q-what did the 0 say to the 8?
    A-Nice belt!

    Q-why did the mushroom get invited to the party?
    A-because he was a fungi!

    A-why do cows wear bells?
    A-because their horns don’t work!

    XO, Annie and Laurie

  • Valerie Violi Satkoske Posted February 20, 2018 2:31 am

    Hi Clay! My name is Valerie and I went to school with your Dad from 5th grade through 12th. I know you’ve never met me, but I want you to know you have some people in Pittsburgh praying for you.

    So…now for a few jokes:

    What happens to a frog’s car when it breaks down?
    It gets toad away.

    Q: What did the duck say when she bought lipstick?
    A: “Put it on my bill.”

    God bless you, Clay.

  • Betsy Granville Posted February 20, 2018 2:34 am

    Clay, You are a superhero, always showing such strength and such a positive spirit, just like all the “good guys”, and we are all behind you as you re-gain your strength right now! Here are some superhero jokes to make you smile:

    Q: Why doesn’t Superman like to go out after dinner?
    A: He’s afraid of crypto-night.

    Q: Which super hero is the most curious?
    A: Wonder Woman

    Q: Why did Bruce’s dentist give him mouth wash?
    A: Because he had bat breath.

    Sending you big hugs and lots of love!!!
    XO The Granvilles–Betsy, Dave, Ellie and Charlie

  • Carol Duggan Posted February 20, 2018 2:53 am

    Clay – We love you!!

    My sad “try” at a joke 🙂

    Because of Mr. Duggan’s love of sports – this is it!

    Why is it so windy at a sports arena?? Because of all those fans! HA HA HA!

    Mr. and Mrs Duggan

  • Charlie Duggan Posted February 20, 2018 3:22 am

    Hey Clay,

    I was going to visit my cousin the other day and I called and asked “what’s the quickest way to your place?”

    He asked, “Are you walking or driving?”

    “Driving”, I said.

    “Well that’s the quickest way”

    Keep laughing buddy!

  • Mark Bayer Posted February 20, 2018 4:22 am

    Hi Clay –

    I’m a friend of your Dad’s and wanted to say how much I admire your toughness AND your sense of humor!

    I don’t have any good (or bad) jokes, but can share some funny situations that happen when you have both a 9-year-old Alexa and an Amazon Alexa in the same house:

    Dad to 9-year-old Alexa:
    “Brush your teeth and wash up for bed now.”

    Amazon Alexa, overhearing: “I am not programmed to do that!”

    Dad to 9-year-old Alexa:
    “Did you walk the dog?”

    Amazon Alexa, overhearing:
    “I don’t know how!”

    We could change the name of the Amazon Alexa to “Echo” or “Computer”. But where’s the fun in that!

    Thinking of you,
    Mark Bayer

  • Sarah Hamilton Posted February 20, 2018 12:17 pm

    Hello Clay!

    Your friends, the Hamilton family, are sending you (and your family) lots of love and laughter! We think you are all pretty amazing and hope that you will be up in our neck of the woods this summer so we can have a great visit!

    Here are some jokes from Caroline!

    What did one hat say to the other hat?
    You stay here, I’ll go on a head!

    Why are telephone wires up so high?
    To keep up the conversation!

    More to follow! We promise!

    Have a great day!

  • David Babst Posted February 20, 2018 12:50 pm

    Hi Clay- The Babsts in Pittsburgh are thinking about you. Katharine (7), Ryan (6), and Maggie (4) have helped me to pull together a few jokes for you this morning. They are much younger than you so you may have to laugh with them and pretend like you are their age again. I am adding a joke too. It should be the funniest one, but that is for you to judge!

    Joke #1: Pennyslvania

    Ryan: Knock, knock

    Clay: Who is there?

    Ryan: Pencil

    Clay: Pencil Who?

    Ryan: Pennsylvania

    Joke #2: Don’t Cry

    Katharine/Maggie: Knock, knock

    Clay: Who is there?

    Katharine/Maggie: Boo

    Clay: Boo who?

    Katharine/Maggie: Don’t cry, Clay, it’s just a joke

    Joke #3: Baltimore Ravens Fans

    Mr. Babst: How do you recognize a Baltimore Ravens fan at a department store?

    Clay: How?

    Mr. Babst: He’s the one trying to slam the revolving door.

    Keep laughing, Clay! We’ll try to find some more jokes for you this week!

  • Andy Keiser Posted February 20, 2018 2:51 pm

    Hey Clay,

    I’m a friend of your dad’s and I’ve only been able to meet you a couple of times but you seem like a cool dude. A little birdie told me that you like jokes and since you’ve had a hard couple of weeks, here’s a couple of good one:

    Q: How do all the oceans say hello to each other?

    They wave!

    Q: What do you call a bear with no teeth?

    A gummy bear!

    Q: What do you call cheese that isn’t yours?

    Nacho cheese!

    Your friend,


  • Martha Graf Posted February 20, 2018 2:55 pm

    Hi Clay,
    Whishing you many happy days ahead!! Here are some jokes for your and your family!
    Q: What did the buffalo say when he left his son?
    A: Bison.

    Q: What did the janitor say when he jumped out of the closet?
    A: Supplies!

    Q: Why don’t ants get sick?
    A: They have anty bodies.

    Q: Why do you smear peanut butter on the road?
    A: To go with the traffic jam.

    Q: Did you hear about the corduroy pillow?
    A: It’s making headlines.

    Q: Did you hear about the two thieves that stole a calendar?
    A: They each got six months.

    I used to be addicted to the hokey pokey. But then I turned myself around.

  • Kevin & Lisa Posted February 20, 2018 3:31 pm

    We haven’t met but a good friend of your family and fellow Hacker for Hope turned me on to your journey. My wife and kids are pulling for you. I’m not great with jokes but I hear you love them and our family loves this one:

    What do you call cheese that isn’t yours?

    Nacho cheese!

    We also love nachos….

    Godspeed Clay, we are pulling for you!

  • Andy Halataei Posted February 20, 2018 3:47 pm

    Clay, hope you are feeling better and we are all thinking of you. Get well and hope you’ll be home soon. My kids favorite joke goes: How do you make a tissue dance? You put a little boogie in it. It’s corny, but always get a good laugh. Stay strong and we’ll be praying for good news.


  • Ted Buckley Posted February 20, 2018 4:37 pm

    Hey Clay,

    We’ve met a couple of times but I’m pretty forgettable – so you may not remember me.

    Here is my joke for you:

    Knock, Knock!
    Who’s there?
    Orange who?

    Knock, Knock!
    Who’s there?
    Orange who?

    Knock, Knock!
    Who’s there?
    Orange who?

    Knock, Knock!
    Who’s there?
    Orange who?

    Knock, Knock!
    Who’s there?
    Orange who?
    Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?

  • Sam Kintner Posted February 20, 2018 5:03 pm

    Hey Clay! I’m Sam, an old friend your Dad’s. Here’s a joke for you…

    Bob says to his neighbor: “Holy schmoozes, I just fell off a 30 ft ladder.”

    The neighbor say’s: “No way man, are you okay?”

    Bob says: “Yeah, luckily I was just on the first step.”

    Hope I can challenge you to some backgammon sometime! Feel better !!

  • Debi Roeder Posted February 20, 2018 5:23 pm

    Hey Clay! It’s cousin Deb…so I was remembering when you were at our shore house and feeling baby Jack kicking like crazy inside Christine’s belly…he sure did give you some entertainment! Well, he’s 16 months old now and he’s hoping to meet you this summer…so please try to get stronger, keep your amazing spirit and hold on to that sense of humor cuz I will be figuring out some good jokes for you and I’ll want to hear some of your best material! Sending sooooo much love and sooooo many hugs from your whole family in NJ…Love you! xoxoxox

  • Mark and Diane Tomb Posted February 20, 2018 6:57 pm

    Clay – We miss you in Arlington but we appreciate all that Annapolis has to offer. I hope these jokes make your day:

    What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t work? A stick

    What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? Nacho Cheese

    What do you call a bear with no teeth? A gummy bear.

    How do all the oceans say hello to each other? They wave

    Why did the elephant paint himself different colors? So he could hide in the box of crayons.

  • Linda Bloss-Baum Posted February 22, 2018 2:36 am

    Hi Clay. This is Matthew’s mom, Linda Bloss-Baum. SO – I have a message for you AND an assignment for you. The message comes from Matthew. He was so happy the day you came to see Madeline’s Christmas when he played Harsha. Thank you so much for taking the time to come all the way to VA to start getting in the holiday spirit with us. That was so much fun.

    Now, speaking of holiday spirit. Do you remember Matthew’s repeated line that made him sound just like Santa? Your assignment is to please tell you Dad to laugh out that line…as LOUD as he can. THREE times in a row. I want your neighbors to hear your Dad try to do that as much as he was doing that WHOLE night. He will certainly get some attention, right? Let us know if he gets kicked out of there.

    Love, The Bloss-Baums

  • Mrs. Dubroc-Secretary at WAES Posted February 22, 2018 4:07 pm

    Hi Clay! We miss you here at school and think about you all of the time. I hope you’re relaxed and filling the hospital with your bright spirit. I’ll share my two daughters favorite knock-knock joke with you and I hope it makes you giggle like it does them.
    Knock Knock (who’s there)
    Cows go (cows go who)
    No, cows go MOO!!!

    Mrs. Dubroc

  • Mrs. Stein- Music WAES Posted February 22, 2018 2:43 pm

    Hi Clay!! We miss you here at WAES, and hope to see you back and feeling better soon.
    A silly music joke:
    Q:How do you fix a broken brass instrument?
    A: With a Tuba glue!

    And another:

    Q: Why did the musician get arrested?
    A: He was in treble!!

    My kids two favorite jokes:

    Two muffins were sitting in the muffin, and one says to the other, ” Man is just me or is it getting hot in here?” The other reponds: ” AUUUGH! A TALKING MUFFIN!!”

    A:Knock Knock
    B:Who’s there?
    A:Interrupting Cow
    B:Interrupting Cow Wh- A: “MOOOOOOOOO”

    We miss your smile and silliness!! Sending lots of love.
    Mrs. Stein

  • Ms. Blaine Posted February 22, 2018 3:47 pm

    Hi Clay,

    I have a joke for you…

    What does a book do when it’s cold?
    Hide under its cover!

    I miss being your librarian – please say hello to your sister for me.


    Ms. Blaine

  • Mr. Gawrys Posted February 22, 2018 4:57 pm

    Hi Clay,
    What do you say? Say hello! I was wondering if you are still walking around playing golf? I miss you buddy, and hope you are feeling better soon.

    How do all the oceans say hello to each other?
    They wave!

    What do you call a bear with no teeth?
    A gummy bear!

    Where do cows go for entertainment?
    To the moo-vies!

    Clay, I think of you often and remember you in my PE class.

    I’ll write again,
    Mr. Gawrys

  • Eileen O’Casey Posted February 22, 2018 5:28 pm

    Hi Clay

    This is Mrs O’Casey from Jamestown! I am sending you good wishes and hope you feel stronger soon. Here are a few jokes to make you giggle!

    Q. What did the envelope say to the stamp?

    A. Stick with me and we’ll go places!
    Q. Why can’t your nose be twelve inches long?

    A. Because then it would be a foot.
    Q. What do you call a dinosaur with a extensive vocabulary?

    A. A thesaurus.
    and last one….

    Q. Why did Luke Skywalker always sleep with the light on?

    A. He was afraid of the Darth.

  • Jennifer Hooten Posted February 22, 2018 5:53 pm

    My Claytor Tot!
    Man have things been pretty boring without you around. I basically pace the hallways all day looking for things to do. I’m sorry things are not going easy for you, I can only imagine the thoughts going through your head. Remember you are stronger than your toughest days. I can’t wait to catch you up on all the silliness your classmates have been up to. We started doing Eye Spy at lunch, telling jokes without just wasn’t the same. How did you like all that candy from Valentine’s Day? I may or may not have threw in some extra candy for you. Well you stay strong Clay, if you are up for a visit I’ll be there in lickity split! Hope to see you soon <3
    Ms. Hooten

  • Rachel Sanders Posted February 22, 2018 8:02 pm

    Hi Clay! This is Ms. Hayes, your 1st grade teacher. I want you to know that I’m thinking about you, and I miss you. I hope these jokes brighten your day and bring you a smile. Stay strong. You are so very loved.

    Q: What do you call an alligator in a vest?

    A: An investigator!

    Q: What do you call cheese that isn’t yours?

    A: Nacho cheese!

    Last but not least, there’s this classic. It’s an oldie but goodie…

    Q: How do you make a tissue dance?

    A: Put a boogie in it!

  • Libby Kegley Posted February 22, 2018 8:53 pm

    We are all thinking about you at WAES Clay! Stay strong!
    Mrs. Kegley

  • Mary Louise Babst Posted February 22, 2018 9:08 pm

    Hi Clay-Sending lots of hugs and love to you from Pittsburgh! We love your sense of humor and wanted to send a joke to you:

    What type of shorts do clouds wear?

    Xox Weasey and Chip Babst

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