Daniel Chapman lives in Hudson but goes by "Brother". Even his oncologist calls him by the nickname.
"I never thought of sharing my son's story because I did not want sympathy or pity," says mom Katrina Chapman. "But I've change my position on this and now think I should share it. Maybe Brother can help raise awareness – ACTION? – that might help someone else."
Brother's journey did NOT begin with cancer. It started with a cleft lip. Things got more serious at 4 months old when he was diagnosed, while on family vacation, with a chromosome disorder called Partial Trisomy 11q. Lots of complications followed.
Now at the age of 12 he remains nonverbal, can't walk, and has the mental development of a 30-month-old.
"Despite his list of disabilities he is always smiling, full of personality and spunk," said his mom. "I love being his mom."
Brother's cancer diagnosis came last year… Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Completely separate, doctors say, from his chromosome disorder. After a difficult year of chemo, Brother was declared in remission.
"We were so thankful," Katrina said. "We ended the 2015 year with high hopes!"
It takes a special person to always see the glass half full. In going back-and-forth with Katrina over email to get information about her son, you can't help but be struck with her eternal optimism. Which is why it's hard to hear what happened in January.
Eight months ago, Brother had a major seizure. His parents rushed him to the hospital and two days later received word the cancer was back in full force. He'd relapsed in a severe way. Doctors said it would only be a matter of time before it reached his bone marrow and infected his whole body.
Brother, they said, needs a bone marrow donor.
Neither his 11-year-old brother Damion or 10-year-old sister Jasmine are a match. No one in the family is a match. Katrina says they have yet to find one.
"Even though we can't yet go forward with a transplant, the cancer has stayed put," said Katrina. "We call that luck and grace."
(See what I mean about glass half-full?)
"We're practically living in a hospital," she said. "That takes a toll on my whole family. But we are extremely grateful to my parents, our close friends and small community. Hudson Elementary has come forward with cards and complete strangers will stop us with kind words."
She ended one of her notes with this great line: "It truly does take a village to raise our children. Some kids need bigger villages than others."
Again, Katrina's main goal in emailing about her son was to raise awareness for bone marrow donors. Which is why I want to make sure to mention that the entire Chapman family recently registered with Be The Match, along with many of their friends.
I registered to be a bone marrow donor while a student at Chapel Hill many years ago and remain on the registry.
In the meantime, send a good thought to Brother. He's hanging in there while waiting for a donor, enjoying the simplicities of life. His mom says he likes listening to music, dancing, eating Wendy's nuggets and enjoying a McDonald's sweet tea or Mocha Frappe. She says he always finds life better with stuffed animals by his side.
Lucky for him, he's got this strong family by his side, too.
Thank you, Katrina, for reaching out and sharing your son.
September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, but we've learned from The Isabella Santos Foundation that awareness is nothing compared to ACTION.
And, of course, feel free to share Brother's story. The parents of all 30 kids this month want you to know their amazing kids.
**Editor's note: This is about one of #MollysKids in the month of September, children WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham follows closely on her Facebook page. This article was first published there – maybe you'll be able to tell that in the personal way it's written. For years Molly has followed the stories of dozens of kids with uphill medical battles. During Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, she features one a day. Thirty total. Find this story (and updates on all of #MollysKids) here.