Heroes of RVA: Stories of children battling cancer

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Who are the Heroes of RVA? They are the beautiful children who are battling childhood cancer. These profiles are brief snapshot of the ups and downs that children in your community face during all stages of treatment. Childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of children yet, despite that alarming statistic, it receives 4% of federal funding for research. You can make sure parents have emotional and financial support so they can focus on the child's well-being. You can help children with cancer by making a financial gift to Connor's Heroes Foundation. 

Graeme

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This three-year-old boy is a sweet and caring big brother to Macklin and Connelly. During a recent procedure, Graeme asked to hold Macklin’s hand. He wanted to reassure his little brother as he watched Graeme's procedure. Graeme is very bright and loves learning about all things medical and weather-related. He will ask questions about x-rays, tornadoes, or even his own chemotherapy. He loves pretending to be a fire fighter, playing hockey, and rocking out to Survivor's “Eye of the Tiger.” His positivity, light for life, and enthusiasm for each day has been incredibly helpful to his family. Graeme was diagnosed with Pre-B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in May 2016. 


Katie and Ellie

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HeroesofRVA KatieandEllie

We decided we were “done” having children. We were enjoying life with our three beautiful kids, David, Katie and Jacob. I started having a hard time with the decision. I couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling that our family wasn’t complete. I think my husband somehow understood that. Something changed in him, too. He was on board for baby #4. I found out in January of 2013 that I was pregnant. It was one of the happiest days of my life. Then, two months later, my brother was killed in a random act of violence. Three weeks after that, seven Marines in my husband’s unit died in a training accident.  A few days later, we lost our precious baby at 11 weeks. As if that wasn’t enough, the final blow came when my father died suddenly from a heart attack within two weeks of my miscarriage. I was in triage mode, barely able to put one foot in front of the other. I did just enough to take care of the kids, but to this day, I’m not sure how.   

HeroesofRVA KatieandEllieI gave up on having another baby. I was too fragile to risk even hoping for it. Then, right before my husband left for his fourth deployment, I found out I was pregnant. Twelve days before he left for his fifth deployment, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl — our second girl. Elizabeth Chase, “Ellie,” restored the joy that I had lost. Anyone close to me will tell you that she saved me.  

HeroesofRVA KatieandEllieIt was January 2015. Katie lost her appetite, slept a lot more, and looked pale. We assumed she was fighting off a virus, but then one Saturday evening she spiked a fever and her belly became distended. We took her to the ER. Doctors discovered that she had masses in her lungs, liver, and spleen. A few hours later, we heard the official diagnosis: T­Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. We got her into a 28 ­month clinical trial. 11 months into it, she relapsed with leukemic tumors on both of her optic nerves. We always knew that a bone marrow transplant might be in our future, so we started the process of trying to find a match for her. Our hope was to find one in our family before trying the national registry. They told us that as parents, Josh and I were a long shot. Her brothers and sister had a 25% chance. We tried not to get our hopes too high. When her doctor came in to tell us the results, I broke down: Our Ellie was a perfect match. She was actually the ONLY match.   

HeroesofRVA KatieandEllieHow can you explain what it feels like when you have to sign these consent forms, and you see the word “DEATH” as a possible outcome? When you watch them take your one baby away, in order to save your other baby? There just aren’t words for that. If there had been any other match in the national registry, we would have taken it. But there wasn’t. 

HeroesofRVA KatieandEllie

Ellie is proof that there’s a bigger story. She is living, breathing, evidence that sometimes, hope shows up disguised as heartbreak. When she’s older, I’ll probably tell her about the baby we never had. I’ll tell her stories about the uncle and grandfather she’ll never know — who left us too soon. But, more importantly, we’ll tell her about the lives she saved before she even turned two.    


(Note: These photos were part of a series that ran in September 2016 for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Photographer Kristin Seward spent many hours with the families and staff whom Connor's Heroes has come to know as we work together to help these brave children and support the research funded through the Connor's Heroes Pediatric Cancer Research Fund. https://www.kristinseward.com)

Children like Katie come to Richmond because VCU is the only hospital that performs bone marrow transplants in Virginia. With Dr. Corey, they have an ally in their battle. Your donation of $5, $25, $100 or any amount will fund research lead by Dr. Corey. One small discovery could lead to a big improvement for cancer patients like Katie. Make your donation. Add your name to the list of local heroes who want to end childhood cancer. 


Dr. Wiedl

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HeroesofRVA DrWiedl

When I was nine, my dad was diagnosed with an oncological disorder. He was given six months to live, but he actually ended up living until I was nineteen. I spent a majority of my childhood in and out of hospitals while he was sick, and because of that, I was able to see the significance of medical research in a way that many people probably don’t. I also watched how the nurses and doctors cared for him — and not just him, but my entire family. It made a huge impression on me. There wasn’t any doubt in my mind that I was going into oncology. 

HeroesofRVA DrWiedl

Being a mother has made me a better doctor. I’m always thinking about what I would want if it were my child who was sick. And that, to me, goes beyond the “clinical” treatment. These parents want honesty. We owe them that. If I don’t have the answer, then I tell them that. But I also promise them that I won’t stop working until I find it. That’s exactly what I would want a physician to do for my boys. 

HeroesofRVA DrWiedl 

I was pregnant with my first child while I was doing my residency. The attending physicians warned me that I would never be able to view patients in the same way after he was born. Boy, they were right. When I came back from my maternity leave, I walked into a room to treat one of my first patients — a baby with infantile leukemia, who was about the same age as my son. I had to put myself in time-out because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hold myself together while I was in the room. 

When you turn on the news, you see so much of the bad stuff. But doing what I do gives me the chance to see so much good in people. These families are going through an unimaginable hell. And yet, I get texts from them thanking me. I have pictures that these kids have made for me hanging up all over my office. And it’s so humbling because they’re the ones in the trenches. In my mind, they’re doing the heavy lifting. I’ve watched some of these parents leave their own child’s bedside to be with the family of another child as they say goodbye to them. There is so much goodness, even in the midst of this incredible heartache. 


(Note: These photos were part of a series that ran in September 2016 for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Photographer Kristin Seward spent many hours with the families and staff whom Connor's Heroes has come to know as we work together to help these brave children and support the research funded through the Connor's Heroes Pediatric Cancer Research Fund. https://www.kristinseward.com)

Funding for childhood cancer research is at the same level when Connor's Heroes started 10 years ago. As you read the stories, you sense the urgency that these families feel. They can’t wait. Any amount will make a big difference in giving Dr. Wiedl, Dr. Corey and our hero families hope for treating and curing childhood cancer. Your gift will support the Connor's Heroes Pediatric Cancer Research Fund and the Jamie Hess Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Fund ~ the only two funds at VCU Massey Cancer Center for childhood cancer research.


Thomas

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HeroesofRVA Thomas

We were there for Thomas' blood transfusion. That’s when Dr. Wiedl asked to talk to me alone in the next room. She fumbled around for words for a few seconds, and then began to cry. She said, “Sylvia, you need to go home and be together. Get Tyler home from boot camp and call in your extended family.” I couldn’t wrap my mind around her words. I said, “What are you telling me?” For four years, we were told we were only buying Thomas time, but I truly believed he was going to be the 1 in 5 who would beat this. We got in the car and drove home that afternoon, just like we were leaving one of our “normal” appointments. I think about that day all the time. I wonder if maybe I should have prepared him better — if I should have said to him, “Thomas, this is happening...it’s close now.” I think maybe he would have panicked and I didn’t want him to be scared. I was still waiting for a miracle in the 11th hour. 

HeroesofRVA Thomas

A couple of weeks before he passed, I could see that he wasn’t doing well. He’d lost so much weight. He wasn’t eating. He didn’t want to play his Xbox. He’d come in from clinic and just lie on the couch, right here on this corner. He was so quiet. One day, as he was lying there, he looked right at me and said, “Mom, I’m scared. I don’t want to die.” Everything in me at that moment wanted to scream, but I made myself be calm. So I looked at him and said, “You know, Tom, everyone dies. How and when we die isn’t up to us. Some people die when they’re really old. Some people lose their lives in an accident. I don’t know why this is our road, but we have to keep looking for the happy things — even the littlest thing that brings us joy. We have to make ourselves go from one happy thing to another.” 

HeroesofRVA Thomas
They told me that I was to tell him that it’s okay to let go, when the time comes. I needed to give him permission. But I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t say those words to my son. I shouldn’t have to. I want him here with me. I was so scared, so angry. My mom finally stepped in and said, “Sylvia, you have to tell him.” But I wouldn’t. I sang to him, held him and listened to his breathing. Finally, she walked over to him and said, “Tom, your mom and dad are going to be okay. We’ll all be okay.” There were nine of us crowded in his tiny room — some of us lying on his bedroom floor, some curled up in his bed. We didn’t move for a long time, even after he was gone. 

HeroesofRVA Thomas
We’ve all come into his room at different times; we’ve had our moments in here. Each of us are dealing with the grief in different ways. After losing a child, I’m sure there are some people who close the door to that room and can’t go in it for years. But Thomas always had his door open; it just doesn’t feel right to shut it, even now. It’s still his room, and it will always be his room. If we stay in this house for the rest of our lives and have grandchildren in this house, I’ll want them to see his room, too, and know who Thomas was. We’re still so proud of him. 

HeroesofRVA Thomas

For the four years that he fought cancer, he never let it define him. Sure, there were those days when he was sick and stayed in bed. As soon as he felt better, he’d pick right back up where he left off. Even his demeanor would completely shift once we left clinic. As soon as he got home, he’d go straight outside to meet up with his friends and ride his motorbike. If he was able to look beyond his circumstances and see only the positives, I think I don’t have any excuse. I think that people just don’t know what to say to me, sometimes. They feel badly, and they’re trying to help. I still work in Thomas’ school and his teachers and friends come up to me every day. As much as it hurts in the moment, I always come away feeling a sense of comfort, because he was so loved. I try to make it a little less awkward and tell people, “It’s okay. There aren’t any words.” But I hope they know that it means so much to me that they tried. 


(Note: These photos were part of a series that ran in September 2016 for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Photographer Kristin Seward spent many hours with the families and staff whom Connor's Heroes has come to know as we work together to help these brave children and support the research funded through the Connor's Heroes Pediatric Cancer Research Fund. https://www.kristinseward.com)

Childhood cancer is the number one disease killer of children in the United States. Sadly, it receives less than 4% of federal funding for cancer research.That percentage has not changed since Thomas's diagnosis. While we can't change federal funding, we can make a difference here in Richmond. Dr. Corey has been in Richmond for one year. Today, he is ready to take his research to the next level. Are you ready to take the first step with him? You can give online at: https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E329683&id=3


Dr. Corey

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HeroesofRVA DrCoreyI can't remember having that "light bulb moment" when I knew pediatric cancer was what I wanted to focus on. As an intern, I became interested in aplastic anemia. That is where the bone marrow makes too few blood cells. Then I became more interested in leukemia. That is when the bone marrows makes too many blood cells. I was fortunate to work with some phenomenal physician-scientists who ultimately became my role models. We would talk about the mechanisms relating to why the bone marrow did not work well.  While taking care of these patients, I discovered that I wanted to further explore the complexities of hematologic malignancies.

HeroesofRVA DrCorey

After being a physician-scientist, working in the clinic and in the laboratory, I’m able to look back and see how research is having a real impact on the lives of these children and their families. For example, I treated two teenage girls, 16 years apart, who had acute promyelocytic leukemia. The first young lady received the standard intensive chemotherapy treatment. Her experience was quite typical - lots of inpatient stays, fevers, mouth sores, hair loss, nausea and vomiting. Her leukemia recurred. She underwent a bone marrow transplant, but she survived. I had the pleasure to dance with her at her wedding years later. The second girl, however, was treated with two new drugs. The intensity of the treatment and the side effects she experienced were tremendously different than that of the first girl. She never had to be hospitalized. She did not need a painful bone marrow transplant. All because of the developments made from the research on how we treated children with leukemia. 

HeroesofRVA Dr Corey

One thing I’d love to do better is to publicize what’s happening right here in Richmond with pediatric cancer research. We're continually working to bring new therapies and cutting-edge diagnostics to the community. It's my hope that Richmond gains a national reputation for cutting-edge pediatric cancer research. We have tanks of zebrafish which we are modeling in pediatric leukemia and identifying which genes contribute to leukemia. By identifying those genes, we can develop early detection tests and intervene more successfully. This is an example of the unique research that our team is conducting here in Richmond.

HeroesofRVA Dr Corey

The children and their families are my inspiration, whether my work is in the lab, in the clinic, or at the bedside. It’s hard for me when we lose a patient, but their brief lives drives me to work more diligently. These families can't afford to wait years for a breakthrough. I'm impatient too. The success in treating childhood leukemia teaches me that it can be cured through creative and innovative clinical and laboratory research.

 

(Note: These photos were part of a series that ran in September 2016 for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Photographer Kristin Seward spent many hours with the families and staff whom Connor's Heroes has come to know as we work together to help these brave children and support the research funded through the Connor's Heroes Pediatric Cancer Research Fund. https://www.kristinseward.com)

We are standing at a crossroads to determine where we go forward for childhood cancer research. Seth Corey, MD, MPH, came to Richmond Virginia in October 2015 as the first endowed chair who's focused on childhood cancer at VCU Massey Cancer Center. Will you give $5, $10, $25 in honor of his desire to discover better treatments and ultimately cures for children battling cancer? Your gift will fund the Connor's Heroes Pediatric Cancer Research Fund and the Jamie Hess Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Fund. Give online: https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E329683&id=3


Ava

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#HeroesofRVA AVAMy parents tried really hard to keep things as normal for us as possible until we knew what was going on with Lauren. We ended up finding out she had cancer the day after my brother’s birthday. I remember that there were streamers and that we had birthday cake. I think he would tell you that he didn’t have a birthday that year. 

#HeroesofRVA AVAWe were staying with our friends while my parents were in the hospital with Lauren. She went in for a CT scan on a Friday. I think my friend’s mom must have known something. She had hinted that it might be a few days before Lauren would get to come home, and I said, “Oh, I’m sure she’ll probably just be there overnight.” And then when she didn’t come home the next day, I said, “Well, I bet they’re just keeping her for the weekend until she gets over her virus.” After we found out that she had a brain tumor, I asked my mom if that’s what it means when people say that someone is “in denial.” 

#HeroesofRVA AVA

We moved into this house right after she got sick. It was kind of hard because we didn’t really know anyone in this neighborhood and we couldn’t have anyone over since her immune system was so weak. We’d come home from school and have to change out of our clothes, take a shower, and put on new clothes. We still wash our hands all the time. But in a way, it feels normal now. I know it’s not, but it’s hard to remember what it was like before she got sick. 

#HeroesofRVA Ava

When Lauren was first diagnosed, a lot of kids at my school would come up to me and ask about her. One time, I started talking about one of her scans and I guess I went on for a while. After a minute or two, I realized they were just staring at me with weird expressions. So I said, “Nevermind. Let’s talk about something happier.” I know my really close friends want to know all of the details. Now that Lauren has relapsed, though, people are scared to even ask about her. I think they want me to say that everything is okay. 


(Note: These photos were part of a series that ran in September 2016 for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Photographer Kristin Seward spent many hours with the families and staff whom Connor's Heroes has come to know as we work together to help these brave children and support the research funded through the Connor's Heroes Pediatric Cancer Research Fund. https://www.kristinseward.com)

Help raise $100,000 for childhood cancer research conducted at VCU Massey Cancer Center. It starts with your donation of $5, $10, $250 to support the Connor's Heroes Pediatric Cancer Research Fund and the Jamie Hess Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Fund. Add your name to our list of heroes: https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E329683&id=3


Mary Ann

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#HeroesofRVA _ Mary Ann, Abbie's mom

When Abbie was first diagnosed, she had a 75% cure rate. But when her rhabdomyosarcoma came back, it went right to her lungs. At that point, the doctors told us that her odds of survival were pretty dismal. I actually carried a DNR in my purse for over a year after she relapsed. But I never stopped hoping that we’d be able to fix her.   

#HeroesofRVA _ Mary Ann, Abbie's mom

 

We had gone to the movies that evening to celebrate her birthday. Later that night, she had gotten really sick. She asked me if she was going to die that night, and I told her no, that we were going to cuddle. The next morning, I took her into the clinic and they told us it wouldn’t be long. Her doctor offered to give her some medicine so we wouldn’t have to tell her what was happening. I had promised her, though, when she first got sick, that if it ever got to the point when we knew we couldn’t fix her, I would tell her. She got so angry. She screamed a lot. She asked us to do more chemo, begged for a lung transplant. She said, “Mom, I’ve done everything they told me to do. Why isn’t it working? You can’t let this happen.” We finally ended up giving her some Ativan to help her calm down. Once she did, she said, “I’m going to have to tell my friends.” I told her she didn’t have to and that I would do it for her, but she insisted.  

#HeroesofRVA _ Mary Ann, Abbie's mom

 

By the time her friends got there the next day, the meds had made it so that she wasn’t really able to talk, but her eyes were open and she was very much coherent. I stood beside her bed and they came up, one by one to say goodbye. I held their hands and said, “Abbie can’t talk right now, but she wanted me to tell you how much she loves you. She’s getting ready to go be with Jesus, and you’ll have to make a new friend, but she’s always going to be with you. You have to know that.” One of her friends was pleading with us to try something else, and I had to tell her no, that it was too late. Some of them put friendship rings on her hands. They put a blanket down on the floor so that they could be close to her. They were eight and nine years old. They were just little girls.  

#HeroesofRVA _ Mary Ann, Abbie's mom

 

After Abbie got sick, she talked about wanting a sister. She wanted us to adopt another little girl, and she wouldn’t let it go. It actually took us three years to find out that we could go to Hungary and adopt a girl named Melissza. Abbie never got to meet her, but Melissza knows all about Abbie. Melissza saved our lives — she’s our silver lining. I think I’d still be rocking myself under the covers somewhere if it weren’t for her. I’ve realized that you don’t ever really get over it. You just learn to live with it as part of your life and have it mesh with everything else. You don’t want to forget the good things, but that means you sometimes have to remember the bad things, too. 


(Note: These photos were part of a series that ran in September 2016 for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Photographer Kristin Seward spent many hours with the families and staff whom Connor's Heroes has come to know as we work together to help these brave children and support the research funded through the Connor's Heroes Pediatric Cancer Research Fund. https://www.kristinseward.com)

It was very brave of Mary Ann to share the story of her daughter Abbie. Abbie was diagnosed in 2009. She became an angel at the tender age of nine years old. Federal funding for childhood cancer research has not changed since Abbie's diagnosis. We can change that! It starts with you. We are using Childhood Cancer Awareness Month to raise money for research conducted here in Richmond. A few miles from the Connor’s Heroes office is Dr. Corey’s research lab. He is the first endowed chair whose focus is cancer’s youngest patients ~ Our Heroes Of RVA. Every dollar you give will be matched, up to $50,000. When you donate, you add your name to the list of local heroes who want to end childhood cancer. https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E329683&id=3


Megan

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After college, I worked for a couple of years as the manager of a barbecue restaurant, then for an aquatics company. I finally realized that I wasn’t doing what God had created me to do. I thought back to the last time when I felt like I was really living into that, and it was during my senior year of college when I volunteered with the American Cancer Society. Oncology has always been a passion of mine, but I never, ever, ever thought I wanted to do anything in the medical field. I actually have a bit of a queasy stomach. Seriously. When I told my mom that I wanted to go to nursing school, she laughed. She said, “You still freak out when you get shots.” 

#HeroesofRVA Megan


 

#HeroesofRVA Megan

I have cried numerous times in a patient’s room when a family heard upsetting news. Or, when they had good news. I always have to temper it with whether or not it would be therapeutic for them to see me show that kind of emotion, because every family is different. If I’ve connected with them on that kind of level, to me, it’s another way I can show them that ​“I love you and I love your child.” Sometimes, too many times, I’m feeling,​“I’m broken with you.” As nurses, we need to weigh how much we let ourselves feel, how much emotion we show, and how much we distance ourselves.   

#HeroesofRVA Megan

I usually work with the same kids throughout their treatment because it helps to ground them and ease their anxieties. I get so much joy out of being with them. It’s a precious thing to watch a nurse with her primary patient —  the connection that we have, the inside jokes that we share. It’s a protective, motherly kind of love. I don’t have children of my own yet, but I love these kids like they’re mine. I know we have an unique and special bond. 

#HeroesofRVA Megan

I’ve experienced a tremendous amount of loss over the last few months. So many beautiful children who are now gone too soon. As soon as a child is no longer in treatment, another new family walks in the hospital. Sometimes at the nurses station, we look at one other. We’re all thinking the same thing: ​“Wow, we’ve got a lot of new kids.”  I have to let the weight of that sink in. There are always new faces, always.


(Note: These photos were part of a series that ran in September 2016 for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Photographer Kristin Seward spent many hours with the families and staff whom Connor's Heroes has come to know as we work together to help these brave children and support the research funded through the Connor's Heroes Pediatric Cancer Research Fund. https://www.kristinseward.com)

We know that the federal government doesn’t fund pediatric cancer research as much as it should. Together we can make pediatric cancer research a priority here in Central Virginia. Dr. Corey has been in Richmond for one year. Today, he is ready to take his research to the next level. If we raise $50,000, it will be matched with another $50,000. At the conclusion of Childhood Cancer Awareness month, $100,000 is donated to research. This is unprecedented. Are you ready to take the first step? Give online. Add your name to the list of local heroes who believe in Megan's dedication to children with cancer. 


Katie And Jim

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Callen #HeroesofRVA

When we tell people that Callen has leukemia, they almost sound relieved. “At least it’s now and not ten years ago.”  “At least it’s this form of leukemia and not the other.”  Jim and I are physicians. Yes, we know that survival rates have improved, but when he was diagnosed, all I could think was, "This is my worst nightmare." A 90% survival rate is definitely more promising than some of the other more aggressive cancers, but Jim likes to use this analogy: There are ten airplanes, and you have to put your kid on one of them. Nine of the airplanes are going to land safely, but one is going to crash and everyone on that plane will die.  Now, put your kid on one of those planes and tell me how you’re going to feel during the flight. 90% is not 100%.  Because if you end up being the 10%, that 90% doesn’t really matter, does it?  And you have to face that. 

Callen #HeroesofRVA

“Everyone goes into remission.” That was another one of those buffers that people wanted to put around us. But I remember looking at his attending physician the week before his day 28 bone marrow biopsy and asking him, “So what happens if he doesn’t go into remission?” He looked at me and said, “I cannot tell you the last time that happened.” I just had this feeling that it wasn't going to come back the way everyone was saying it usually does. 

Callen #HeroesofRVA

We ended up getting the phone call the night that several of our friends and colleagues planned to come by for a picnic in our front yard. We knew they were coming, but then I looked out my dining room window and saw them standing there with banners and pails of ice cream. They even crocheted blankets for us. It had all the makings of being a celebratory evening. Then, right as we were about to go outside, my phone rang. And my heart sank when I saw the number come up because good news doesn’t come at that hour. When you’re a physician, you call to give good news the minute you get it. It doesn’t wait until the end of the day. And I knew that. 

Callen #HeroesofRVA

With dads, it’s a more of a solo journey. I’ll break down with Katie occasionally, but never in front of the kids. I make a thirty minute commute to our satellite office twice a month, and during that that first year of his treatment, I think I screamed the entire drive to the office. Two times each month, I was alone and that was when I could let it all out. Then I’d compose myself and go in to do what I needed to do. Just this past week, I was talking with a patient and she told me how she lost one of her sons in the line of duty. I had a hard time maintaining my composure at that point. When your kid is going through something like this, the idea of that kind of loss is always at the forefront of your mind. It’s hard.  


(Note: These photos were part of a series that ran in September 2016 for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Photographer Kristin Seward spent many hours with the families and staff whom Connor's Heroes has come to know as we work together to help these brave children and support the research funded through the Connor's Heroes Pediatric Cancer Research Fund. https://www.kristinseward.com)

We are using Childhood Cancer Awareness Month to raise money for research conducted here in Richmond. You can donate on our site. Here's why. A few miles from the Connor’s Heroes office is Dr. Corey’s research lab. He is the first endowed chair whose focus is cancer’s youngest patients ~ Our Heroes Of RVA. Every dollar you give will be matched, up to $50,000. Think about it. At the end of September, you could help us give $100,000 to pediatric cancer research. That would be unprecedented. When you donate, you add your name to the list of local heroes who want to end childhood cancer.


Jaquan

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I work night shifts as an ER tech, and my husband works during the day. So we switch off when Jaquan has to be in the hospital for his treatment. The nurses try to let me get some sleep, but he still wants to play and be a kid. Some days, I don’t know what we’d do without his Kindle Fire. That was one of the best things he ever got in his backpack from Connor’s Heroes. It’s pretty much the only way I can get a few hours of sleep.


It was two days before the end of Jaquan’s kindergarten year, and we were at his 6 year check-up. The pediatrician felt something in his abdomen. He’d had no symptoms at all before that, and he had barely missed a day of school that year. His doctor sent us for an ultrasound. He said, “It could be something. Or it could be nothing.”


Jaquan_#HeroesofRVAYou know that feeling in your gut when something is wrong, and it’s suddenly more than just being worried? We were waiting for his ultrasound results, and they were taking too long to come back and talk to us. I knew it never takes them that long, unless it’s not good. I remember watching the clock and getting that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was probably only 25 minutes but it felt like an eternity.


Jaquan #HeroesofRVA

We’ve been in the hospital for treatments 5 times with each visit lasting about a week. This is the final maintenance treatment, so hopefully there won’t be any more hospital visits for us. But the testing and the waiting is so hard. Sometimes, it’s almost a week before I get the results — to know whether he’s going to get a clean scan, or find out that a medicine hasn’t worked. So, all I have is time to think. When we’re in the hospital there’s basically nothing to distract me. It sounds bad, but it’s been better for me to prepare myself for the worst.


Jaquan #HeroesofRVA

 

 

 

 

You can be a part of something amazing! Join us as we raise money for pediatric cancer research conducted right here in Richmond during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. A few miles from the Connor’s Heroes office is Dr. Corey’s research lab. He is the first endowed chair in Richmond whose focus is cancer’s youngest patients - Our Heroes Of RVA. Every dollar you give will be matched, up to $50,000. Think about it. At the end of September, you could help us donate $100,000 to pediatric cancer research. You can double the impact. When you donate, you add your name to the list of local heroes who all want to end childhood cancer. Be a hero! It starts with your donation.

(Note: These photos were part of a series that ran in September 2016 for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Photographer Kristin Seward spent many hours with the families and staff whom Connor's Heroes has come to know as we work together to help these brave children and support the research funded through the Connor's Heroes Pediatric Cancer Research Fund. https://www.kristinseward.com)