In March 2016, our 21-month-old son, Cade, started randomly crossing his eyes. Within a week it escalated from a few times a day to a few times an hour.

With some persistence, we were able to get three pediatric ophthalmologist appointments the following week. Thankfully, one of the doctors saw something that the other two did not see – optic nerve paleness. This alerted her to order an MRI. On April 11, 2016, Cade had his first of many MRIs. A brain tumor the size of a baseball was discovered, and our lives were forever changed from that moment. On April 14, 2016, Cade underwent a nine-hour brain surgery to have his tumor resected. Thankfully, the entire tumor was removed. On April 19, the initial pathology report confirmed that the tumor was brain cancer – medulloblastoma.

Although the tumor was removed, Cade still needed intense treatment to lessen his chance of relapse. He proved throughout his cancer journey that he is a fighter. Since his diagnosis in April 2016, he accumulated over 10 scars, endured 42 chemotherapy treatments, was rushed to John Hopkins ED at least 20 times, and spent well over 100 nights in “Hotel” Hopkins. He has also had more than 15 surgeries, needed seven blood transfusions, and three platelet transfusions. Cade threw up more times than we would ever be able to count, he lost weight, lost his hair, had painful mouth sores, the worst diaper rash, but through it all, he kept his loving spirit and smile.

Cade had some complications after his cancer treatment ended from a condition called hydrocephalus, which he developed after his tumor was resected. It is an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in his brain. He had a shunt placed in May 2016 to treat it, but unfortunately a shunt comes with many complications. He had his shunt replaced several times, and in October 2017, Cade endured 4 brain surgeries in 12 days because his shunt continued to fail.

Cade is currently 7 years old and in first grade. He LOVES playing sports, specifically soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. He also begged us to play football, but due to his shunt, we felt that it was not worth the risk. Our local recreation council, who knows Cade’s story, reached out to us and rostered him as a kicker on the team, so he would not be involved in any tackling plays. He really enjoyed being part of a football team, and we feel so grateful to live in such a thoughtful community. Cade is one tough boy, and not just because he is a cancer survivor, but also because he has two older brothers, Ryder (12) and Tanner (10), that he is constantly striving to keep up with. Cade continues to have speech and language delays, as well as a reading disability, but with the many interventions that are in place, he is making great progress.

This journey has taught our family how valuable life is, to not take a moment for granted, and to look for the positives in difficult situations.

Cade proudly represented The Children’s Cancer Foundation, Inc. (CCF) and Giant Food as the 2018 Ambassador for Giant Food’s Childhood Cancer Campaign.

#cadestrong