This is Kristen and Nikko's story.
(Pic: Kristen & Nikko - Feb 2017)
Today, Kristen and Nikko Worthington, mother and son, are fighting cancer together. Kristen's breast cancer diagnosis, and Nikko's Rhabdomyosarcoma Stage 4 diagnosis rocked their family - just 4 months apart.
Kristen, loving mother of four, wonderful wife, and caring daughter - is a rock for just about every person she meets. She has a compassionate magnetism that draws so many people to her and has dedicated her entire life to the ones she loves. She brings light and a creative outlook to every obstacle she comes across, and she takes on other people’s obstacles with the same vigor as her own.
Anyone that knows Kristen knows she is optimistic, creative, strong, and funny - a perfect mix of character to help her get through what will undoubtedly be a tough and hard-fought journey.
(Pic: The Worthington family - Mother's Day 2016)
For a few months Kristen had been feeling fatigued and slightly out of balance, but as a mother of four, of course she brushed it off and continued to go about her busy life. Then she found a lump. A physical lead to a mammogram, a biopsy, and then a painful waiting period, which lead to the diagnosis. An aggressive, triple-positive breast cancer. Ever since it’s been a whirlwind of constant appointments, phone calls, tests, with a fire-hose of information without time to even process the painful words, “I have cancer”.
(Pic: Nikko & Kristen, March 2017)
On Valentine's Day, two days after her 43rd birthday, she underwent surgery to remove the primary tumor. Since then, she has had a few complications including a second surgery for a hematoma, then blood clots in her lungs, and after a brief recovery period, began receiving her intense regiment of Chemotherapy. Her initial chemo treatment plan is scheduled for a year and a half, and then more medications for the 5 years following, but reconstructive surgery will not be an option for several years during her care. Through it all, she has done her best to find silver linings, and find beauty in the love shown to her by all that surrounded her.
However, the family heartbreak was, unfortunately, just beginning.
About Nicholas (Nikko):Nikko is 13 years old, and heading into the 8th grade. He’s an active kid and managed to do well on his middle school wrestling, basketball and football teams, even though he’s half the size of most of the competitors. He has that fearless spirit. His coaches and teachers often comment on his determination, and amazing leadership skills.
(Pic: Nikko and his Dad, Rick, Sept 2016
Nikko is such a warm person. He’s caring and compassionate beyond his years. He goes out of his way to help others and makes sure everyone feels included. When his brother offered to stay home from a recent basketball trip he had planned, his instant response was, “don’t you dare.” His selflessness never ceases to amaze us.
(Pic: Nikko and his Aunt Beth - Dec 2016)
Nikko has an uncanny ability to make anyone laugh and has since he was tiny. A goofy face when you least expect it. A witty response, way too mature for his age. Putting his action figures in funny places around the house, like peeking out behind books or in cupboards. The quiet nervous giggle he gets when he’s up to something clever. Even in the hospital, Nikko has touched the lives of so many of his caregivers. The paramedics that assisted his transport to a new hospital and nurses from other departments have made time to let him know they were thinking about him and checking in on his care.
Throughout everything, he's been making jokes and laughing when he can.
(Pic: The head coach and players from the Rocky Mountain HS Baseball team, including his brother Payton, visiting Nikko in the hospital - June 2017)
In May of 2017, he started feeling a pain in his back. The pain grew and within weeks, he was unable to ride his bike or move well, and began to have a strange feeling of nausea overwhelm him at times. The pain, nausea, and rapid weight loss became so great, doctors performed an MRI to examine the issue, and found 2 fractured vertebrae in his lower back. They also discovered tumors.
(Pic: The Worthington family - Mother's Day 2017)
Nikko was admitted to St Luke's Children's Hospital for further examination. It was discovered that his kidneys were on the verge of acute failure, and after several more MRI's, biopsies, and scans, more cancer was found in the bone marrow throughout his body, including his vertebrae, skull, pelvis, and leg bones, and a large tumor was located on his foot. The diagnosis is an aggressive and rare type of childhood cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma. Stage 4. Because this cancer is so rare, Nikko's doctors will be collaborating with experts in Seattle. In mid July, their family will be taking Nikko for further tests, and to meet with the team at Seattle Children's Hospital.
(Pic: Nikko, March 2017)
Kristen stayed at the hospital with her son for over two weeks, and has been doing what she can to help Nikko through his treatments and symptoms. Thankfully, Kristen's care was transferred to the same building as Nikko's care. On Friday, June 30th, their shared experiences reached a new level. Kristen and Nikko both received Chemotherapy on the same day - at the same time. A totally unplanned moment, in a completely unimaginable situation. And if all goes well, they will continue to receive weekly chemo treatments on the same day, in the same building, for the next 12 months. Side by side.
(Pic: Kristen & Nikko, June 30, 2017, moments before they both received chemotherapy treatments at the same hospital)
How you can help.
This family needs your help, because their fight is far from over. Please wrap them in your prayers, surround them with thoughts of light and love, hope and determination. And if you are able, your donation will help ease some overwheling medical bills and help with some essential care needed. Thank you for your love and support for this beautiful and loving family. It's going to take a village to help them through this rough time.