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The student news site of Kingwood Park High School


The student news site of Kingwood Park High School


Grant McTaggart tees up courageous fight

Junior Grant McTaggart, who battled cancer as a child, plays on the high school golf team. He met Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, a spokesperson for the Sunshine Kids, when Grant was undergoing chemotheraphy. Photo by Sydney Ortiz. Background photos by Melanie McTaggart.
The McTaggart family participated in a commercial with Texas Children’s Hospital when their son Grant, now a junior at Kingwood Park, was being treated for cancer.

Grant McTaggart watched as his father stood a few feet away and called Hall of Famer Craig Biggio

Grant had just taken his two daily chemotherapy pills, each wrapped in a Fruit Roll-Up by his mom Melanie. That special touch and the phone call to Grant’s favorite baseball player were the only ways the 3-year-old would swallow the pills. 

Biggio never answered the phone. Grant’s father David never actually dialed it. David had no direct line to Biggio, but David McTaggart knew that pretending to brag about his 3-year-old son to Biggio would convince Grant to take the pills needed to save his life. 

Discovering the cancer

Grant was in Waco visiting his paternal grandparents in 2009 when he started running a low-grade fever, and his stomach was noticeably distended. 

“I just had a sort of mother’s intuition and felt like something wasn’t right,” Melanie McTaggart said. 

Grant McTaggart plays golf on his 3rd birthday in the playroom of Texas Children’s Hospital. He spent many days at the hospital from the time he was 2 years old until he was 6. Photo submitted by Melanie McTaggart.

Grant’s parents took him to the emergency room and got blood work done on May 23, 2009. When the results came back abnormal, David McTaggart called his father, a Waco pathologist, to look at the results. 

Grant’s grandfather Dave M. McTaggart saw the leukemia cells and diagnosed Grant with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at 2 a.m. the next morning.

“Initially it was kind of like life stopped and I was in shock,” Grant’s dad said. “It just didn’t seem real.” 

The cancer treatment started immediately, and the McTaggarts were relieved with how well it went. Grant’s cancer became the focus of the McTaggarts’ lives. They spent more of their days at Texas Children’s Hospital than they did at their home.

The calm lasted only two months.

Serious setback 

In August of that year, Grant’s bowels began to shut down. The doctors decided to do a 24-hour infusion of methotrexate. The infusion went into his spine and then into his brain. Normally it flushes out, but Grant’s did not. It caused major damage to his cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for balance and movement. 

Grant lost his ability to talk and walk. 

“It was a big kick in the face, sort of a reminder that this is really serious and he may not make it, he may not survive this,” David McTaggart said.

Grant spent a full week in the Texas Children’s Hospital intensive care unit unable to eat or drink. When he got out of the ICU he started another round of chemo. He also had to begin physical therapy. 

Meeting Craig Biggio

Hall of Famer Craig Biggio drives 3-year-old Grant McTaggart around on the tractor at St. Thomas Episcopal High School, where Biggio coached after his playing days with the Astros. Photo submitted by Melanie McTaggart.

As Grant continued to heal through rehab and take his chemotherapy pills, his dad continued to make daily calls to Biggio.

In September 2009, the most unlikely connection was made.

Grant’s doctor, Dr. ZoAnn Dreyer, was to be honored at St. Thomas High School, where Biggio coached at the time. Dr. Dreyer was friends with the Biggio family and shared the story of how the McTaggarts got Grant to take his pills. 

With the help of Biggio, Grant was invited to help Biggio announce the award to Dr. Dreyer. After the ceremony, Biggio spent 30 minutes talking with Grant and driving him around the baseball diamond on his tractor. 

Biggio told Grant he was proud of him for taking his pills every morning. He even told him he enjoys getting calls daily from Grant’s dad. 

Day-to-day challenges

While meeting Biggio was a highlight for Grant, most of his days were not that fun. Grant attended St. Martha’s Catholic School while he went through treatment. 

It was difficult for Grant to be the only 3-year-old in class who was bald and using a walker. At such a small school, every student knew of his condition. 

“He just didn’t want his identity to be tied to being a kid with cancer,” Melanie McTaggart said.


Grant and Claire McTaggart enjoy a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World when he was 6. “It was a week that we really didn’t worry about anything,” said David McTaggart, Grant’s father. “We spent three and a half years worrying constantly, and it was the biggest weight off our shoulders. Watching him and his sister Claire have such a great time at Disney, it was wonderful. Greatest, greatest week of our lives.” Photo submitted by Melanie McTaggart.

After finishing treatment at age 6, Make-A-Wish reached out to the McTaggarts and offered Grant a trip wherever he would like. He chose Disney World. The family stayed at Give the Kids the World Village, where kids with critical illnesses get to experience a cost-free magical week.  

“It was a week that we really didn’t worry about anything,” David McTaggart said. “We spent three and a half years worrying constantly, and it was the biggest weight off our shoulders. Watching him and his sister Claire have such a great time at Disney, it was wonderful. Greatest, greatest week of our lives.”

Baseball was his first love

Grant grew up in a sports-loving family. His dad started bringing him to the golf course when he was just 2 years old. Grant’s father would throw the baseball and Grant would crush it. He loved playing and watching sports.

The damage caused by the methotrexate infusion changed how much Grant could do, but it never dimmed his love for sports. He grew up still wanting to play baseball like Biggio, so his parents let him join a team. But he could barely hit the ball. 

“I just had a heart attack in every game because it was really hard for him to hit,” David McTaggart said. 

As Grant gets older his limitations get smaller, but they are still visible. He still has trouble with his balance. 

Sports became an escape

Grant found comfort in a new sport, though. From following his dad to the golf course before chemo to playing golf at the playroom in the hospital, golf was where Grant found a refuge.

Junior Grant McTaggart putts at Kingwood Country Club on Feb. 19. (Tricia Darcy)

Going into high school, Grant chose to join the golf team.  By Christmas break, he moved from the beginning period to seventh period, where the more advanced golfers practice. 

“When we did that, it really sparked him,” coach Angela Chancellor said. “I think he got addicted to golf at that point, like he was excited. It was a good move on our part, I think, because it really encouraged him to take it seriously.”

Through golf he met the most supportive friends. His parents labeled golf “a godsend.” 

“On the golf course, I can let go of the stress of school and just life,” Grant McTaggart said. “I just love being on the golf course.”

Dealing with remission

In May, Grant will celebrate 15 years since his initial diagnosis. He is currently in remission, but the doctors will never say cancer free. Each year that gets further from the initial diagnosis, the McTaggarts celebrate with cake. 

“He will continue to go to Texas Children’s for the rest of his life – at least once a year,” said Melanie. 

Grant continues to stay in touch with Biggio. In October, Biggio told the McTaggarts that he still has one of Grant’s letters hanging on his fridge. 

Next year, Grant will graduate. He hopes to work in a sports-related industry. He’ll continue to play golf his senior year. His coach looks forward to watching his continued growth.

“Don’t let Grant fool you, he’s pretty strong,” Chancellor said.

No one has to remind David and Melanie of that strength. Grant appreciates the constant support from his parents and older sister Claire. His parents are in awe of who he has grown to become.

“He’s never once asked me or my wife, ‘Why is this unfair?’” David McTaggart said. “Why did this happen to me?’ He never once felt sorry for himself.”

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  • K

    Kathleen KearneyMar 4, 2024 at 6:47 pm

    Such a beautiful story of bravery ,family, love, and faith. So proud of you all.
    ❤️ Aunt K