This is Andrew. He is four years old, and preparing to graduate from preschool. He has a mom and dad, two sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends - all whom love him dearly. He enjoys swimming, camping, and going to the beach. He has an infectious laugh and a smile that can light up a room. Yet behind that smile, Andrew harbors an awful secret. He has one of the deadliest forms of pediatric cancer - neuroblastoma.
But Andrew didn't always have cancer. For the first two years and seventeen days of his life, not only was he healthy, but he seemed bigger, stronger, and tougher than most little boys his age. In those days, Andrew's dad often referred to his little guy as a "future linebacker". Outwardly, Andrew was the picture of health, but on the inside, a storm was brewing.
Quietly and insidiously, a malignant tumor was developing inside his body. It grew so large that it split his left kidney in two, and consequently caused blood to mix with his urine. Hence, the storm hit. The day after returning home from a family vacation at the beach, Andrew's mom discovered blood in his diaper. What could this mean? A bladder infection, UTI, or kidney stone? She didn't know, but as she drove to the pediatrician's office that morning, worried and anxious, she was soon to find out that sometimes, your very worst nightmares do come true.
Within a few hours, Andrew's parents would learn that their two-year-old son had cancer. Cancer? How could this be? When the radiologist came to deliver the news, Andrew and his mom watched from the playroom as the diagnosis brought Andrew's dad to his knees. And then, at that very moment, Andrew's mom remembers a feeling of numbness flooding her body, as she braced herself for what was to come.
The rest of that day was a whirlwind of raw, gut-wrenching emotion, while Andrew's parents were inundated with information, statistics, and survival rates. Andrew's mom doesn't recall many of the specifics of that horrible afternoon, but looking back now, it wouldn't have mattered what was said, nothing could have prepared her for the pain and suffering she was about to witness. She was now an unwilling member of a depressingly dark, horrific society...the world of pediatric cancer.
Sometimes, Andrew's mom allows her mind to wander back to that day at the beach, when her son was still "healthy", her family was happy, and she'd never even heard of this wicked disease called neuroblastoma. But most of the time, she tries to focus on the present. Today, Andrew is defying the odds, and once again, looks bigger, stronger, and tougher than most little boys his age.
After five rounds of chemotherapy, two major surgeries, fourteen doses of radiation, and eight rounds of extremely painful monoclonal antibodies, Andrew is considered NED (no evidence of disease) and living the life of a rambunctious four-year-old little boy. But since neuroblastoma is known for being an extremely aggressive cancer with a high incidence of relapse, he will undergo scans every three months in an attempt to make sure the beast stays at bay. Andrew will never truly be free of this disease, but his mom has decided that if your very worst nightmares can come true, then so can your sweetest of dreams. And therefore, he will be a survivor.
Cookies for Kids' Cancer, a foundation inspired by the love between a mother and her son, offers a sweet and simple way for the entire community to participate in the fight against pediatric cancer. By hosting a bake sale, people of all ages can raise money desperately needed to fund new, less toxic therapies for Andrew, and kids just like him, in the hopes of finding a cure. So, please, be a good cookie, and get involved! Join us...and imagine a world without cancer.