Children aren’t supposed to die, or even be concerned with death. They also shouldn’t get cancer, causing them to spend hundreds of days tethered to machines, amid circumstances contrary to “childhood”. But, both happen. I know, because I lived it.
I had a son named Nolan. He was the youngest of three boys, and a divine addition to our family. On April 1, 2017, when he was three years and eighteen days old, I stood over a New York City hospital bed and saw that precious, bald-headed boy – known by his delicate frame and supersized personality – die before my eyes. He had endured three surgeries to remove huge portions of his liver and lungs, as well as 12 cycles of 35-year-old chemotherapy drugs intended for adults. His heart arrested unexpectedly that afternoon; and, he could not be revived.
We were in New York because I was seeking to do what every mom yearns to do for their child: fix it. We’d traveled a thousand miles away from home to seek the best minds in pediatric medicine. Cannonball Kids’ cancer (CKc) and doctors across the country had also worked tirelessly to find a clinical research trial for Nolan. But it was all for naught. Because there were no options. And to this day, there is still no trial for children suffering from relapsed hepatoblastoma.
As I tried to comprehend how to physically “move on” from that hospital room, I collected Nolan’s elephant loveys and Mickey Mouse blanket. I gently removed each of his blue-striped, grippy socks. I placed a train and a small, plastic basketball toy into the “I Love New York” tote on my shoulder. I then knotted the fingers of my right hand with those of my husband’s left, forced to face the only remaining task – to walk away from our son. Forever. When we stepped outside to the brisk, city night, the cars and people seemed to buzz around us like normal… unaffected. Thoughts directed at everyone and no one kept shouting inside my cloudy brain: “Do you have any idea what just happened?! Do you know that kids are DYING from cancer?!
From that moment on, I felt certain no family should ever experience this pain again. I knew things had to change, and that more options must be created. I knew I had to get involved with CKc to support innovative research. If we’re going to eradicate this beastly opponent, we need to expand our army. I may not have been able to fix this for Nolan; but, together we CAN make a difference for other kids!
Donations go directly towards funding pediatric cancer research projects to make better treatments for kids battling cancer so they may not endure the horrific pain or develop secondary cancers associated with their treatment.
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