Ben was diagnosed with Stage III Wilms Tumor in Feb 2019 just before he turned two, and after surgery to remove his left kidney, he began to receive weekly chemotherapy treatments for six months. In July of that year, we found out the cancer had spread to multiple locations in his liver and lungs. Within days, he started an aggressive inpatient chemo treatment and spent a total of 89 days in the hospital through the end of 2019, which included a 30-day stay for a stem cell transplant.
When he relapsed, I reached out to Holly, the only other person I knew who had been through this and asked for advice on how to manage and entertain a toddler in a hospital. She gave such thoughtful advice and then had the K Club send a package out of the blue filled with fun toys for Ben and his older brother to make the long days ahead more entertaining. Throughout our hospital stays, both my boys received many Lego sets, books, and blankets during K Club Lego Parties, which always perked them up and gave us something to avoid the daily monotony of long hospital stays.
Then when Ben was discharged from his transplant, K Club organized his breakout party. If you’ve never seen one of these, imagine a young child after being cooped up in a hospital room for an entire month from a high chemo dose, morphine drips for pain, multiple blood transfusions, feeding tubes, and sheer boredom being suddenly showered with balloons, new pajamas, and toys. Then the wonderful celebration continues when he charges through a line of cheering nurses, doctors, staff, and volunteers all chanting his name as he breaks out of the hospital. It was truly an incredible moment of transformation that gave us energy and hope as we moved into post-cancer life.
Ben finished treatment in Feb 2020 but continued to work through the after effects of cancer treatment. It started with blood and platelet transfusions through May because his bone marrow was still weak. A month later he received the remainder of his stem cells to give his body a boost. Six months later in January of this year, we started treatment to manage the damage in his remaining kidney that was caused by his treatments. It will be a lifelong reminder of what he and our family went through two years ago. However, he has been growing and thriving, and continues to be cancer free. Now we get to enjoy life and watch Benjamin grow to love swimming, riding his bike, playing with building blocks and cars and continue to show us how very brave he is.