HICKORY, NC (WBTV) - For families who have gone through it, they will tell you there's nothing you can do to prepare to hear the words "your child has cancer."
That news devastated a family from Hickory. Their son, Nolan, went from being a healthy eight-year-old to getting very, very sick. We met them in the midst of their fight at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
"Nolan was healthy until he suddenly wasn't," said Nolan's mom, Carina. "That same week we did end up having an MRI and we received the surprise of our life on August 24."
The diagnosis for Nolan was medulloblastoma, one of the most common pediatric brain cancers. In his case, doctors said the cancer was aggressive. Less than a month after the diagnosis, they paid a visit to St. Jude.
"We met with the researchers here we know and have learned are experts in this area. So after our visit here, we decided this was the place that Nolan needed to be," said Carina.
This meant Nolan and his mom had to leave the rest of their family in Hickory and travel hundreds of miles to St. Jude for chemotherapy, after first receiving surgery at Duke University Medical Center and radiation at the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute. Nolan's treatment at St. Jude is no cost, and their stay at St. Jude came at no cost.
"So we're staying in the housing that's provided by St. Jude. It's the Target house. It's phenomenal. We are so grateful that we have that available to us," Carina says. "They don't just take care of the medical side which is huge but they also take care of the daily living because when you're faced with this type of diagnosis it's hard to know what to do next. There are so many decisions. It completely disrupts normal."
Normal is what Carina says Nolan is looking forward to most. His doctors say his continued improvement will mean he will get to go home soon.
"He was playing soccer with CVYSA in Hickory. He loved it that was one of his biggest joys. So we hope to go back to playing soccer when we go home," says Carina. "I hope for the day when no child has to come here but at the end of the day we are really thankful that St. Jude exists."
This is why your money from Dream Home tickets is well spent. We have a happy update to share about Nolan: Since our interview with him at St. Jude in March, he was released from the hospital in time to finish the 3rd grade this past school year with his friends in Hickory.
So he'll be starting the 4th grade when school starts again soon. We'll get to visit them in Hickory and bring you a follow-up story on his progress now that he's home.