“A mass…are we talking about cancer?”
The expression on the ER doctor’s face revealed the answer before he spoke a word in reply. “There’s a small chance it might not be cancer.”
It was the explanation we certainly were not expecting for Drew’s worsening condition in the last two weeks. After 4 visits to the pediatrician and 3 different antibiotics to treat a double ear infection, our son only got worse. Finally, we ended up taking a trip to the local ER, and then an ambulance ride to The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. After several tests and imagining, a large mass was discovered in Drew’s belly, and this fateful conversation took place. It was January 21st, 2016.
In the next week, we learned that the 13cm-across mass was indeed cancer—Neuroblastoma. His bone marrow was 35% disease, and cancer showed up on bone scans from his skull down the long bones in his legs. He literally had cancer from head to toe.
Drew began one of the most intense treatment plans in pediatric cancer which included 6 chemo cycles, major surgery, tandem bone marrow transplants, and 13 radiation treatments. After early success with this treatment, unfortunately, the cancer began to grow and spread once again.
After a failed clinical trial, our family made the difficult decision to end further treatment, and enjoy the time we had left with our Drew. Ten days after we returned from our Make-a-Wish trip to Disney World, Drew Becker died on January 19th, 2017. He was only 2 years old, and spent the last year of his life in treatment for childhood cancer.
Our story is tragic, but unfortunately, far from rare. One in every 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 18. Sadly, one in five won’t survive. Warrior Wagons was founded with the mission to help new families as they begin treatment. We hope to prepare Warriors with useful items for use during treatment, as well as give hope and encouragement for the difficult journey ahead.