A week after his 6th birthday, my son Zachary was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer found in children. This changed our lives forever. We will be working on writing the story of our experiences with our son’s cancer battle on this blog over time. But if you would like to learn more about it right now, you can find a facebook page where we chronicled our journey through this trial on facebook here. (@Zachary’s Story).
If you have a child with cancer and need someone to talk to, fill out the form below and my wife and I would be happy to reach out to you.
The Story So Far:
When I played football in high school, one of the greatest lessons I learned was that we almost always can accomplish more than we think we can. I remember running sprints at the end of practice and thinking that I couldn’t go anymore. And then the coach would blow the whistle for us to run some more. Sometimes we would run until we threw up. And then we would have to run some more. As a naive, young man I never would have thought that I would have to endure a trial as difficult and intense as what we went through with our son’s cancer. Yet, God has a purpose for all things, which is a truth that brought a deep comfort in the midst of our suffering.
As we look back at the journey, we can see many evidences of God sovereignly orchestrating events leading up, during, and after our son’s cancer. When I was 19 years old in 2001, I moved down to Raleigh, North Carolina to live with my older brother. It was an exciting time living as a bachelor in a new place. While in Raleigh, I became friends with Anne through our mutual church context, and we got married in October, 2003. We were two young, naive, and immature adults. Because I was still going to college (I started college a year after we got married) and we were trying to pay off debt, we decided to wait to have children for a while.
Almost 5 years after getting married, we had our first child, Zachary, in August 2008. He was a very happy baby. Life as new parents, while having many of the normal difficulties associated with it such as lack of sleep, was really great. Zachary was an easy baby to train up and teach. He was the happiest baby I have ever known. As time passed, my father, who was still in Michigan with much of the rest of my family, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He declined relatively quickly. In May, 2010, as I was finishing up my degree in education from North Carolina State University, my father passed away. It sent shock waves throughout our family that are still being felt to this day. My dad was a typical Italian patriarch. He was the glue that held our family together. His death was going to change so much about the family dynamics. I wanted to be part of adjusting to life after his death with my mother and our Michigan family.
So when Zachary was two years old, and two weeks after our second son was born, we moved our little family of 4 up to Michigan to live with my mother. It was a move that will forever change the story of our family, and one that God sovereignly orchestrated for the good of our son, as you will soon see.
Over the next couple of years, we had one more child, bringing our total number of children to 3. Zachary was a little 5 year old, discovering the world of homeschooled kindergarten and learning to read and do math. His little brother, Ben, was 3, and his little sister, Abigail, was 1. We were living with my older sister and her family for a little while so we could save up money to buy our first home. Life was busy and challenging for us. We didn’t know that a small complaint that Zachary kept making about a strange pain in his pelvis that wouldn’t go away was about to redefine difficulty for us and teach us that we could endure far more than we thought we ever could. That is the story of life isn’t it? We can endure far more than we think we can.
After numerous doctor’s appointments and a visit with a pediatric rheumatologist, we still had no reason for his increasing pain. It got the point where Zachary would wake up every night screaming in pain. Every night we would give our little guy more than the recommended dose of children’s ibuprofen to help with his mysterious pain. The fateful night was August 22nd, 2014.
Anne and I had to take our little guy to get an MRI around 10pm