I am writing on behalf of a person I have only met a few times but her positive attitude under such sad circumstances has left a lasting impression on me and on everyone who knows her. She is a 24 year old single mother with two young sons. Her life, and the lives of her two and four year old sons, changed forever when her oldest son was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer. Here is Susan’s story.
In February 2014, her four year son was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma stage 4 cancer with an unfavorable tumor. He was given a 63% chance of survival. He had a 9cm by 5cm tumor in his abdomen. Another tumor filled up his whole sinus cavity. The tumor swelled up around his optic nerve, causing him to go blind in his right eye. More scans showed cancer in his hips, thighs, legs, spine, shoulders, and the skull where the tumor was resting. There was cancer in numerous lymph nodes, as well. Joshuah has undergone surgery to remove the tumor in his abdomen. He endured 5 rounds of chemotherapy and 12 consecutive days of radiations to his head and abdomen. In July, he had a bone marrow transplant. They spend weeks at a time in the hospital. As a result, she had to quit her job and drop out of college in order to be with her son during his many hospital stays. She has to leave her two year old son, Kevin, with relatives for weeks at a time so that she can stay with Joshuah through his painful treatments and surgeries. It’s extremely difficult for her to be separated from Kevin so often. He is too young to understand why she has to leave so often and he doesn’t understand why she always takes Joshuah with her. It’s even harder when Kevin is sick because then she has to choose which sick child she should be with.
Susan is struggling financially. With no job, she struggles to pay her bills. It is 110 miles round trip to the hospital, so money for gas is a big problem. Her car is 10 years old and the frequent trips back and forth are taking its toll on her car. There have been several times when Joshuah had a fever and Susan had to call a relative to take them to the hospital because her car wasn’t running or she didn’t have money for gas. The fevers are a sign of a dangerous infection in the lines that deliver the medicines throughout his body. These infections can damage his heart in a very short period of time. They also cause major setbacks in his treatment plans and can even result in death.
In June, tests showed that Joshuah was in remission. The doctors at Children’s Hospital are calling it a miracle. The cancer in this bones, lymph and tumors are gone. But Joshuah’s journey is far from over. He is currently receiving Immunotherapy. This therapy is much harder on his body than the chemotherapy was. Without this treatment, his chance of survival is only 43%.
Joshuah will have lifelong disabilities. He is now blind in one eye and the treatments have damaged his hearing so he is currently in the process of getting hearing aids. Only time will tell what other damage has been done to his body from the large amounts of chemo and radiation. There is also the chance that the cancer will return. A mother’s greatest fear is losing one of her children. Susan has to live with this fear constantly. She worries that any bump could be another tumor or another fever could be a fatal infection.
The remarkable thing about Susan and Joshuah is their spirit and their compassion for others who are sick. He is such a happy and cheerful little boy. He has endured more pain that most adults ever will and he does it without complaining. He is a very brave little boy. Susan says he is her hero.
Susan is living a parent’s worst nightmare, and she is doing it with so many other things to worry about. She struggles to pay for food, gas, utilities and any extras the kids might need, yet she always has a positive attitude. She has faith that Joshuah will beat this cancer. If you asked her what she wants most, besides a cure for her son, it wouldn’t be for money or a new car. It would be to bring awareness to childhood cancer in order to save other children. Everyone knows what a pink ribbon stands for but no one knows what a gold ribbon stands for.
Thank you for all of your love and support!
Your generosity will forever change the lives of three very special people.
We have a P.O box set up for the family as well. Joshuah can receive cards also.
P.O Box 120
Holly, MI 48442
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