Nicholas was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at just 2 1/2 years old on December 31, 2017. Nicholas is now 5 years old and in the last 3 years we’ve been through many ups and downs. It’s hard to shake how helpless and vulnerable we felt when he was unwell for weeks on weeks.
No one ever thinks it could be their family. But there we were on New Year’s Eve of 2018 feeling the biggest heartache of our lives. We had no choice but to put our absolute trust into the hands of the Cohens children’s oncology team who worked diligently to save Nicholas' life.
The life of a child fighting leukemia is not an easy pill to swallow. Nicholas has been in treatment for 3 years now. Since his initial diagnosis, he has endured multiple blood transfusions, platelets transfusions, surgery to implant his medical port, countless spinal taps, routine chemotherapy, oral medication (including steroids), and has sadly endured the many harsh side effects that go along with them. It's been a challenging time, but Nicky has managed to battle cancer with strength and positivity beyond his years.
While in treatment, aside from listening to doctors and getting to every out-patient visit, we thought about every way we could make his days at the hospital a little less boring and sad. Sunrise on Wheels made that possible and I made sure that our long days at the hospital would fall on days Sunrise on Wheels volunteers would be at Cohens. Nicholas would look forward to seeing some of his favorite faces – Nicole, Dwayne, Cindy, Dulcie, Barbara, Aurily, Linda. He knew he could always count on them to play with him and help him get through some of his toughest days. Today, Nicky loves arts and drawing and we strongly believe it all started with Sunrise on Wheels. It was through Sunrise on Wheels that we were introduced to Deanna and Sunrise Day Camp, and after a few conversations about the camp, we were excited to have Nicholas enrolled!
Although at first we felt nervous about the ideas of our son attending camp, considering he was just turning 4 years old, we quickly realized how beneficial the experience would be for him and our family.
Summer 2019 was a great summer for Nicholas. He loves to run around freely and be a kid. Sunrise gave that back to him and we are incredibly grateful for that. Our goal for Nicholas was for him to gain some confidence that summer and we are happy to say it was achieved in such a fun and safe environment.
Nicholas was very much looking forward to being back at the campgrounds, but then 2020 happened. Sunrise went above and beyond launching the virtual summer camp. One of Nicky's favorite parts was receiving his weekly Camp-in-a-Box! He also has an unbelievable bond with his counselors and are happy he was able to still see them this summer. It's always so comforting to see the care and love that Sunrise and the staff have for their camp families – knowing that they come from all walks of life, whether they were a sibling of a cancer patient or a cancer patient or survivor who were once campers. And now they are giving their love and support to make sure current campers, like Nicholas, have the best summer experience possible.
Nicholas being surrounded by an entirely courageous group is simply how Sunrise has had such a positive impact in our lives. We share our story in the hope of spreading awareness, so that more children and families impacted by pediatric cancer will get to experience the magic that is Sunrise.
As for today - Nicholas is on track to ring the infamous "end of treatment" bell in May or June. We know that our journey is only beginning but we are trending in the right direction. We, as a family, are so excited for that day. We are so honored to be the 2021 SunriseWALKS Camper Ambassador Family and ask you all to join us on our journey, and on June 27, celebrate Nicky and all the other fighters out there.