SUNFIELD, Mich. — Each year, nearly 18,000 people are diagnosed with a life threatening illness where a bone marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant is needed. 

According to the U.S. Health Department, it's often the best treatment option. 

An Ionia boy, who has beaten childhood Leukemia twice, has decided to re-write and perform a famous Justin Timberlake song, which he hopes will convince people worldwide to become bone marrow donors so more lives like his can be saved.

When Isaac Walker was 2-years-old, he became ill.

"He was coughing a lot and running a fever," said Fawnda Walker, Isaac's mother. "Doctor's said it was bronchitis, which wasn't unusual for him because he'd had it quite a bit."

After taking some prescription antibiotics for a couple days, Isaac wasn't getting better.

"He was sleeping 20 hours a day," said Fawnda. "He wouldn't eat anything."

Fawnda and her husband Andrew decided to take Isaac to Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mi., for further evaluation.

"Within a couple hours they told us our son had cancer," said Fawnda. "I was numb and in complete disbelief."

Isaac was diagnosed with T-Cell Leukemia.

"He was in very critical condition," said Fawnda. "His white blood count was at 674,000. The typical diagnosis of Leukemia is about 50,000 [white blood count].

"The doctors were actually shocked he was still alive."

Isaac recovered and started chemotherapy treatments, which he did twice a week for three years. 

The treatments seemed to work because Isaac went into remission and remained there for five years.

"It was really scary when I was told that the cancer came back," said Isaac, who is an 11-year old 5th grader in the Lake Odessa Lakewood school system. 

Isaac's parents brought him back to the hospital where his oncologist determined the only way to save his life was for him to get a bone marrow transplant.

Isaac once again began aggressive chemotherapy treatments until the cancer was no longer detectable in his system. While he was receiving the treatments, the hospital was in search of a bone marrow donor.

"It's about a 25% chance that a sibling will be a good match, but that wasn't the case for Isaac," said Dr. Ulrich Duffner, pediatric hematologist-oncologist at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. "We hoped a donor would emerge."

One did.

A young man living in Texas named Bailey Bond emerged among 80 viable candidates as the perfect donor match for Isaac.

Isaac Walker (left) with his bone marrow donor Bailey Bond (right).
Isaac Walker (left) likely wouldn't be alive today if it wasn't for Bailey Bond (right) being willing to become a bone marrow donor.
WZZM

"In April 2016, Bailey's bone marrow was flown up to Grand Rapids and Isaac underwent the transplant," said Fawnda. "Isaac spent several weeks in the hospital after the procedure was done.

"You could see that he started feeling better right away."

Over the course of the next 20 months, Isaac continued to show signs of improvement. Once again, his doctors determined that his cancer had gone into remission.

"Isaac was feeling up to it, so we decided we wanted to travel to Texas and meet Isaac's donor," said Fawnda. "We wanted to thank Bailey in person for saving our son's life."

In April 2018, Isaac, along with his mom and dad and brother Alex, flew to Texas. Once they arrived, they settled into their rental car and began their drive to Austin.

"The radio happened to be on in the car and a song by Justin Timberlake started to play," said Fawnda. "We all started to sing along."

The song was "Can't Stop the Feeling."

Fawnda says when Timberlake started to sing the line from the song - "I got this feelin' inside my bones" - she decided to change the words.

I said, 'I have this marrow inside my bones,'" said Fawnda. "Everybody in the car decided that we should Google the rest of the lyrics and see if we can make more changes."

Once the song ended on the radio, Fawnda says she pulled it up on her phone and listened to it over and over again, while re-writing Timberlake's words to fit Isaac's cancer fight and new-found friendship with his donor Bailey.

"It was truly a family effort," said Fawnda.

Before long, Isaac and his family had turned Timberlake's hit song "Can't Stop the Feeling" into their own version, which they titled "Can't stop the Flowin.'" 

Here's the lyrics to "Can't Stop the Flowin:'"

I got this marrow inside my bones.

It was defective Bailey till you came along.

It tried to kill me, but God said no.

After testing, you were a match is what it showed.

I got my cure from your hip socket.

Got your marrow inside of me.

Now my new blood is a flowin' and it don’t stop... ohhhh.

Your cells are in my body and now I am cancer free!

No more medicine and shots, treatment stops.

Under the lights they took your marrow.

They said it’d help someone you don’t know.

When you move well you might be sore.

Just imagine, Just imagine, where I’d be.

I’m alive today ‘cus you are the match, match, match.

It’s because of you that I have a chance, chance, chance.

Everyone see if you are a match, match, match.

People out there needing so keep matchin’.

Can’t stop the flowin’... Be a match, match, match.

Can’t stop the flowin’... Be a match, match, match.


I got this marrow inside my bones.

It was defective Bailey till you came along.

It tried to kill me, but God said no.

After testing, you were a match is what it showed.

I got my cure from your hip socket.

Got your marrow inside of me.

Now my new blood is a flowin' and it don’t stop... ohhhh

Your cells are in my body and now I am cancer free!

No more medicine and shots, treatment stops.

Under the lights, they took your marrow.

They said it’d help someone you don’t know.

 When you move, well, you might be sore.

Just imagine, Just imagine, where I’d be.

I’m alive today ‘cus you are the match, match, match.

It’s because of you that I have a chance, chance, chance.

Everyone see if you are a match, match, match.

People out there needing, so keep matchin.’

Can’t stop the flowin’ Be a match, match, match.

Can’t stop the flowin’ Be a match, match, match.

Can’t stop the flowin’ Be a match, match, match.

Can’t stop the flowin’ Be a match, match, match.

Got new marrow in my body.

Got new marrow in my body.

Got new marrow in my body.

Got new marrow in my body.

"When we got to Austin and after Isaac and Bailey finally met, Isaac showed Bailey the lyrics and started singing them to him," said Fawnda.

When the Walkers returned to Michigan, they shared the lyrics with BeTheMatch.org, which is an organization that supports bone marrow donors, while managing the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world.

"Be The Match really liked the song we wrote and asked us to create a music video with it," Isaac said.

Fawnda says she immediately contacted the Child Life Department at the hospital to see if they had the resources to help them with a video.

"When I was contacted, the song was written so all we had to do was come up with some choreography and record," said Bridget Sova, who is a music therapist at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. "All of us child life people became video producers for a day."

After Bridget recorded Isaac singing the song, they started shooting the music video in the hallways of the hospital. 

"Isaac asked his doctors, nurses and the receptionist to be in the video," said Fawnda.

Isaac danced and sang in the video like a seasoned pro.

"There weren't many mess-ups but we had a few." said Isaac. "I have a hip hop teacher who helped me [with the dance moves]."

The video was not only a way for Isaac to celebrate with all the people who helped save his life, it was also made to hopefully convince people to become donors.

"I'm hoping people see the video and are intrigued and will consider saving lives like mine," said Isaac. "There's a bunch of people out there that don't get bone marrow transplants that need them."

Today, Isaac Walker's blood "Can't Stop the Flowin'" thanks to a medical staff, a donor and some inspiration from a pop music iron.

"He crushed it," Bridget said, referring to Isaac's music video performance. "He's a great dancer; he's a great singer; he's the total package.

"He's the next Justin Timberlake."

Timberlake will be in concert at Van Andel Arena on April 4, 2019. Isaac says he hopes Timberlake sees his music video before he comes to Grand Rapids.

"That would be amazing if we could meet," said Isaac.

If you're interested in learning more about becoming a bone marrow donor, Isaac Walker has a special TeamIsaac web page has been set up by BeTheMatch.org, through Michigan Blood.

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