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Family Story THON 2016

One Sunday morning in 2012, Ayden, then 2 years old, was found in his bed with a puffy eye, Nicole said. When he was taken to the doctor later that day, it was surmised to be allergies or an infection. However, when he woke up the next day, his eye was swollen completely shut. This time, Ayden was taken to a pediatrician, who also thought it to be a simple eye infection, but sent him to the hospital for IV antibiotics. Nicole said it was then that the true nature of Ayden’s condition was revealed, when the doctor transferred him to the Hershey Medical Center where he was diagnosed with leukemia.

“I remember saying, ‘leukemia, that’s bad…’ and thinking to myself, ‘isn’t that cancer?’” Nicole said. Soon after, she said a nurse came into the room and advised Ayden to start eating because he would most likely have to start chemotherapy the next day.

“We were completely floored. We had no idea what she was talking about,” Nicole said. “And when we asked her questions, she just said she couldn’t really answer them.”

Ayden was ultimately diagnosed with “very high-risk” acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and was admitted to the hospital about a dozen times for scheduled treatments, infections, severe headaches, uncontrolled vomiting and other reasons.

Since then, the family was introduced to the Four Diamonds and has been paired with Ayuda, a THON Special Interest organization founded in 2012.

Ayden’s treatment consisted of IV and oral chemotherapy, anti-nausea medication, steroids and more. Nicole said the family’s lives have changed dramatically following the diagnosis. “Appreciating every single moment, not just every single day, has become a reality,” Nicole said.

Throughout their journey, she said her family has learned a lot about the Four Diamonds and it has impacted their lives “tremendously”. She said that THON activities such as the THON Family Carnival, THON soccer and Harvest Day give the family a chance to feel “normal” and accepted as they offer a place where everybody knows what they are going through. “Looking back, we can only imagine how much darkness we would have had the last three years if it were not for THON and the Four Diamonds,” Nicole said. “THON and the Four Diamonds have given us tremendous rays of light, happiness and opportunities for laughter and excitement that we would not have otherwise had.”

Together, we make a difference in the life of a child. To learn about more about our THON families, please visit https://thon.org/for-the-families/

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