Mission – The mission of Alex’s Army Foundation is to provide Christian based support to children, parents, siblings, family members and friends living with a Pediatric Cancer diagnosis while raising awareness and funding for Pediatric Cancer Research. Together and through Him, we can make a difference!
Why Alex’s Army? ‐ There are many misconceptions about pediatric cancer and pediatric cancer research. So much so that my husband and I as parents with a child who at 5 years old was diagnosed with Stage IV Wilms Tumor, didn’t understand in going through our first round of treatment the full extent of the statistics we were being told. We were told that we were fortunate to have “the good kind” of cancer…that there was a 95% success rate in the treatment of Wilms Tumor. At the time that was somewhat reassuring to us and we found ourselves focusing positively on that. What we didn’t know, was that the 95% success rate meant our son had a 95% chance of surviving at least 5 more years. SO, our 5 year old son had a 95% chance of surviving until age 10. We also didn’t know that if he survived, he would be likely to live with lifelong complications from the chemo and radiation treatments he was given. Do you call that a success? Upon first relapse of Wilms that percentage drops significantly and upon 2nd relapse there is no known cure. Alex is coming up to his initial 5 year mark, meaning he will be lumped into the 95% success rate, however, he is still fighting and enduring even tougher treatments than before. He is in a wheelchair due to a spinal cord injury he suffered from treatment. He is emotionally drained at times and constantly battles with fear and faith, with weakness and strength, with way too many things that a 10 year old should have to have on their mind.
We try to stay positive and be strong as parents, yet we struggle everyday wondering how we would live without him and how we can make sure other parents and children don’t have to go through what we’ve gone through. We decided to start Alex’s Army to help other families like ours battling the same emotions and issues we have been battling with for the last 5 years. Through our programs and projects, we want to be a voice for God amidst the pain, suffering, isolation, fear, and brokenness that families like ours are going through. We know what it’s like to battle Pediatric Cancer without God and to battle now with Him and we have seen firsthand the difference that has made not only in our fight with cancer, but in all aspects of our life.
We are also committed to helping fund research for Childhood Cancers. A large portion of our profits go directly towards funding for Childhood Cancer Research through the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) . The COG treats more than 90% of children and adolescents diagnosed with cancer each year in the United States, the group has over 200 member institutions, and consists of more than 8,000 experts worldwide. Research efforts consist of disease specific research for hematologic malignancies, solid tumors, CNS tumors, and rare cancers, as well as studies in new cancer drug development, supportive care, epidemiology, stem cell transplantation, behavioral sciences, and survivorship. The Children’s Oncology Group is primarily funded by the National Cancer Institute however funding over the last 10 years has been cut 30%. Our goal is to help support new research by the COG through providing whatever funding we can in order to help make a difference in the lives and treatment options available to our children fighting Pediatric Cancer.
You can help us fund this lifesaving research for kids battling Pediatric Cancer by getting involved or by donating today! Every little bit helps, no amount is too great or too little!
Alex’s Story ‐ Alex was diagnosed with Stage IV Wilms’ Tumor on October 10th, 2009. It was a day that changed our lives forever and one that my husband and I will never forget. Our days of t‐ball games, kindergarten field trips, and normal family activities were replaced by long hospital stays, watching our son undergo multiple surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and just overwhelming feelings of fear and anxiety. Alex was 5 years old when he was diagnosed.
The night Alex was diagnosed he was taken via ambulance to the local Children’s Hospital which became our home away from home. Initially, Alex went through 6 months of chemotherapy treatment, 15 days of radiation, multiple surgeries, and countless visits to the clinic and emergency room. Having to watch your child go through such an invasive and life changing treatment is unbearably difficult. My husband and I tried to control whatever we could but as parents you feel so helpless and alone.
At 5, he battled the disease quietly being the shy guy that he is; he didn’t really like to talk about it much. He hated going to the clinic, he hated having to skip meals for surgeries or scans or radiation, he hated losing his hair, and he hated everything about the disease. He never really got used to everything like the nurses and doctors said he would, but he got through it and we got through it with him. In April of 2010, we learned that Alex was considered to be in remission and that was one of the most joyous and amazing feelings we have ever experienced. We slowly came out of shock and other than routine scans and clinic appointments here and there, we felt as though we were starting to get our lives back together.
However, in February 2012, all of that changed yet again as we learned Alex had relapsed just shy of his 2 year remission milestone. We were devastated yet again, perhaps even more this time around knowing what would be in store for Alex and our family. We looked for the positive and found some comfort in thinking we knew what to expect and eventually became even more determined to beat the cancer yet again. But like all things with cancer treatment, there are constant curve balls and punches to the gut that are thrown at you. During the surgery to remove the newly grown tumor along Alex’s IVC and aorta, Alex had unexpected blood loss; This loss of blood to his lower extremities would ultimately leave our son partially paralyzed from the waist down. So while we thought we were prepared to battle again, we quickly learned we had no idea what was in store for us. Not only did Alex then have to endure intense chemotherapy and additional radiation treatments, but he had to do this while also going through inpatient rehabilitation for his paralysis. He spent 3 months in the hospital and would go between one hospital to another, one for chemo and one for rehab. Alex went in for surgery on that February morning in 2012, thinking we would be home in a few days…little did we all know that a few days would turn into months and instead of walking out as he walked in, looking forward to running and playing when he was feeling well; that he would instead be wheeling out in a wheelchair and our world as we knew it would yet again be turned upside down.
Alex continues to fight his recurring cancer and is now 10 years old. He is older and battles with many more emotions and understanding than he ever had to when he was 5. We have frequent discussions of faith, hope, finding strength in God when we are too weak, death, heaven, cancer, fairness, being different, struggles in life, etc. There are no words to describe how it feels to have to watch your child endure so much pain and heartache in their little innocent lives. The natural tendency as a parent is to want to fix everything, to shield and protect them from pain and danger and heartache. Through all of this, one of the things we have learned time and time again is that we are not in control. The only comfort and joy we have been able to find, and finding this has been amazing, but it is in knowing that there is a greater purpose for us all. While this life is nothing that I would have imagined or picked for us; we have seen so much goodness come out of this pain, we have seen firsthand how God works in His own perfect timing, and ours eyes have been opened to the beautiful promises that He has given to us. While we may not understand why our family has had to endure this trial, we find comfort in knowing there is a reason and that reason is for good and for a greater purpose.