Each week, Fourth and Gold will highlight a cancer warrior that has bravely and fiercely stood strong against childhood cancer. At Fourth and Gold, we want you to see the faces behind our drive and connect with them in a way you wouldn’t have been able to if you didn’t take the stand to demand #MoreThan4! Our precious kids have cancer, but cancer is not who they are.
Week of April 14, 2018
Chris Jr, diagnosed with stage 4 high risk neuroblastoma at 17 months of age
Current age: 2 (DOB 11/25/15)
Favorite Things: Chris Jr is your typical toddler boy! He loves cars and trains, coloring and stickers! … Who doesn’t love a few good stickers to the arms?!
Favorite Foods: Chris Jr loves chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, muffins and spaghetti O’s!
If you know Chris Jr, you know that he: Has the most contageous smile. He’s got the prettiest eyes that light up the room. He loves his family so much and is quite possibly the strongest 2 year old to ever exist!
A typical day for Chris Jr is: Once he wakes up, he has 8 syringes of medications waiting for him. Mom and Dad then have to flush his port, take him to clinic for labs, possible transfusions and exams, and then when they arrive back home, Chris Jr has more meds waiting. In between the medication and bedtime, Chris Jr is able to spend time playing and hanging out with his family before his bedtime routine of taking 8 more syringes of medications and getting his port flushed.
What you cannot see here is that Chris Jr has undergone:
- 5 surgeries
- 12 days of radiation
- 8 rounds of chemo
- 2 stem cell transplants
- 4 rounds of immunotherapy
- Still has 2 rounds of immunotherapy left and another surgery to remove his port
Chris Jr’s parents on what they wish people understood about childhood cancer: “People see Chris Jr’s story and say how strong we all are, but they don’t see the behind the scenes. They have treatments for cancer, but they are terrible. If he survives, his whole life will be affected by cancer and the treatments. He’s kicking cancer’s butt, but his kidneys are damaged, his blood vessels are damaged, his hearing is damaged, they said he will probably never be able to reproduce. His right adrenal gland was surgically removed because the cancer ate it.”
Chris Jr’s parents on the hardest part of having a child with cancer: “Your life is flipped upside down. You’re forced to watch your child suffer, nothing about life is ever normal. Every minute of every day you realize that your child may die, but you can’t allow yourself to show those kinds of emotions in front of him. You need to always be strong so that he can fight.
Chris Jr’s Parents reflection on Chris Jr and his struggles since diagnosis: “Chris Jr was 17 months old when he was diagnosed. He spent his 2nd birthday and Thanksgiving in the hospital, 3 hours from home, being poisoned by chemo. Chris Jr cries every time he sees someone in scrubs or a lab coat because he thinks they’re going to hurt him. He’s 2 years old and lives his life in fear. I can’t take more than 2 steps away from him or he cries so hysterically it seems like he’ll have a heart attack… but then he smiles, and it lights up the whole room, and I think that my 2 year old is the strongest person I’ve ever met.”
As you’ve probably discovered, just reading about Chris Jr and seeing his personality, it’s hard not to fall in love with him. While I want you to connect with Chris Jr and kids like him, I want you to understand the reality of the darkness that is childhood cancer. I cannot imagine muttering the words “if my child survives this…” But this is the daily life of Chris Jr. and so many kids like him.
Our government only gives 4% of all research funding to childhood cancer research. And it’s killing our kids. If you’ve browsed through the site or read the other warriors stories, you know that only 3 new treatments have been approved for childhood cancer in 20+ years. If a child does not achieve remission after their original treatment plan, they often go on (unproven) studies that have gruesome side effects… without the guarantee of a cure.
You see, if you’re not in the childhood cancer world, you likely have never been informed of this awful reality.But now you are. And if you’re reading this, something drew you to Chris Jr and childhood cancer… so now join me in making a difference for kids like him. Write your local congress representative, donate blood/platelets (cancer patients often need several transfusions throughout the course of their treatment), do research and donate to childhood cancer research foundations, support businesses that help families affected by childhood cancer, sign up for childhood cancer research newsletters, get to know families affected by cancer… because doing something is better than doing nothing.
This week, I challenge you to do a random act of kindness in honor of Chris Jr. Tag us on Instagram @fourth_and_gold_llc or facebook @Fourth And Gold LLC with a picture of your random act of kindness with hashtag #MoreThan4, #NotRare or #ChrisJrStrong
#MoreThan4 #Not Rare
*Stage 4 Neuroblastoma: The original tumor has spread to distant lymph nodes, bones, bone marrow, liver, skin, and/or other organs
*Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is the use of medicines to help a patient’s own immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells more effectively (American Cancer Society)
*According to the American Cancer Society, side effects of immunotherapy can include:
- Nerve pain (which can sometimes be severe)
- Leaking of fluid in the body (which can lead to low blood pressure, fast heart rate, shortness of breath, and swelling)
- Allergic reactions (which can lead to airway swelling, trouble breathing, and low blood pressure)