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#MollysKids: JJ Funderburke celebrates birthday, starts school through cancer treatment

We met JJ Funderburke in March, right after he’d been diagnosed with Stage IV Wilm’s cancer.
We met JJ Funderburke in March, right after he’d been diagnosed with Stage IV Wilm’s cancer.
We met JJ Funderburke in March, right after he’d been diagnosed with Stage IV Wilm’s cancer.(Provided by Family)
Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 7:31 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Busy few months, for this 5-year-old boy in Stanly County. We met JJ Funderburke in March, right after he’d been diagnosed with Stage IV Wilm’s cancer.

That type of cancer starts from renal tissue but can spread. In JJ, it spread to his liver, both lungs, inferior vena cava, and heart.

Back in March, his mom said the diagnosis happened fast and unexpectedly - as most pediatric cancers are.

Maybe you’ll remember his story when you hear that JJ kept telling his mom it felt like “a sausage biscuit was stuck in his mouth.” Turns out, that was cancer.

Since first writing about him, JJ has been on a roller coaster ride. In May, he underwent a seven-hour surgery to remove his largest tumor and left kidney. Soon after, he started radiation.

“That was by far the worst part of his treatment,” his mom Stacy says. “Because he was so young, he had to be put to sleep every day during radiation. Over the course of two weeks, he lost over 10 pounds (25% of his body weight). He continued to receive chemo during the entire process, but I’m happy to say his last chemo was in the middle of September, and his end of treatment scans were in October. On November 8th, he was officially declared “NED” (No Evidence of Disease) and got to ring the bell at the Levine Children’s Oncology Clinic.”

JJ will need scans every three months, but overall, this is great news.

Want to hear even better news?

JJ started kindergarten. He began on homebound instruction but went to in-person in November.

His teacher sent this picture to his mom.

“I think it’s a perfect caption of everything he has been through,” she said. “But also showing what he can accomplish.”

His mom continues to update their Facebook page: JJ’s Army.

We wanted to update his story here, too, through #MollysKids. Who doesn’t want to read a little inspiration about a sweet boy who over the past year has celebrated a birthday, started kindergarten, and gone from Stage IV to NED? Congrats to you, JJ. The smile is everything.

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