At the age of five, my son Israel was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Judging based on his pains and symptoms, I thought it would be appendicitis. I never thought in a million years that it would be cancer. In Akron, Ohio we kept going to the children’s hospital and they couldn’t find out what was wrong with him. That's when I decided to take him to my hometown in Cleveland, Ohio and the doctors at that hospital told me that we would not leave without knowing what was wrong with my son.
We went to the hospital on June 19 and they did an ultrasound where they saw a mass. Then, they did a CAT Scan and on June 22nd, they confirmed it was cancer. They had me in a meeting room where they told me it was stage IV neuroblastoma, a nervous system cancer, and we had to start chemotherapy the very next day. Israel did six rounds of chemotherapy in Cleveland and the doctors performed a reduction surgery to remove the tumor. Unfortunately, they were unable to remove his entire tumor or any part of his primary tumor, so we went to Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City to look for help.
Another surgery was scheduled at Memorial Sloan Kettering but Israel developed a line infection at the last minute so the surgery had to be postponed. During his infection, Israel was being cared for at Akron Children's Hospital. This is when the tumor that was left in his body started growing and spreading to his hipbone. He received more intense chemotherapy for the tumor until he was able to receive his surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering. The doctors there were able to remove his tumor, however they had to also remove his right adrenal gland and his right kidney due to the spreading. This brought about the need for a second surgery for his bowel obstruction.
Memorial Sloan Kettering is well known for its humanoid antibody treatment, so when the doctors told me Israel was eligible for it, I was ecstatic! However, Israel relapsed in the abdominal area before he was set to start treatment. The treatment is called humanized 3f8 and it goes throughout the whole nervous system and attaches to the cancer cells thus alerting Israel's white blood cells to go kill the cancer.
I was then informed that his lymphocyte count was too low for the treatment at all. This was terrible because it would've really helped Israel and I had already signed the papers and prepared Israel for it. I asked the doctor if we could try again in a week depending on his lymphocyte count at that time and the doctor agreed. Thanks to the help of prayer, vitamin C, mushrooms, a multivitamin, Protocel, and ASEA, his count was high enough to go through with the treatment.
The only down side to the treatment was that it is incredibly painful. For 10 out of the 40 minutes, Israel is in excruciating pain that not even the strongest pain medicine could take away. He screamed in horror during the treatment and I felt helpless. However, I had to stay strong for Israel. The day after, Israel told me it was okay. It’s times like this when I know that my son is my hero. He is always smiling through all the treatments, travelling and missing school.
Israel has had a total of 4 surgeries, 24 cycles of chemotherapy, 11 3f8 antibody treatments and 33 radiation treatments. He has been fighting neuroblastoma for over four years. Each time we come to New York for treatments, we need money for travelling, food, taxis and other expenses. We generally spend $100 to $200 per week in New York, and that easily doubles or triples when my four other children come with us. I think it's important for them to come to see and support Israel as well as be able to spend some time with their mother. Even when I am home, I am working as a nurse and they do not get to see me very often. We are experiencing a huge financial burden during a very difficult time in our lives and every bit helps.
When my rental car was towed outside the Ronald McDonald house in New York City, I was so upset and the towing company was very stubborn and unhelpful. So I called the police because I thought they might have towed my car and spoke to a wonderful officer named P.J Conley. He tried talking to the towing company but they were not cooperating with him either so he offered to pay my $185 towing bill and $20 for a taxi! The kindness of family, friends and strangers means a lot to my family and me and we want to thank everyone their continued support.