It’s hard to have one child battling cancer. Now imagine having three.
That’s the reality for one pair of Atlanta, Ga., parents, who have three sons fighting the exact same form of eye cancer — retinoblastoma.
At only four weeks old, their first child, Tristen, was diagnosed. Their second son, Caison, was born two years later with the same diagnosis. Finally, their third son, Carter, was born cancer-free. But six months later, he received his diagnosis.
Tristen, Caison and Carter have all gone through the same types of treatment — chemotherapy, evaluations under anesthesia, MRIs and laser treatments.
“As a parent, you would do anything to provide the best health care for your children, whatever it costs,” the family’s GoFundMe page reads. “And it does cost almost everything you have if your child faces a medical illness or disease. Now imagine that cost times three.”
Parents Aaron and Angie Rush were forced to sell their home and move in with family to fund their kids’ “exorbitant” medical bills.
“As you can imagine, the ‘unknowns’ of dealing with cancer are stressful enough without the added financial stress associated with the numerous doctor visits, hospital stays, and missed time from work,” the fundraising page reads.
The fundraiser, which boasts more than US$30,000 raised since Jan. 14, was started by Aaron’s mom, Jeanne Rush.
The Rush family discovered that retinoblastoma can be hereditary, Angie told the broadcast station. She lost one of her eyes when she was a baby to the same form of cancer and knew there was a 50 per cent chance of passing it on to her kids.
The children’s grandmother, Jeanne, wants to raise awareness about this rare form of cancer, which typically afflicts babies and children; while relatively rare, it is the most common form of eye cancer in children. The cancer begins in the retina, the sensitive lining on the inside of the eye, and from there can invade further into the eye and nearby structures — even other parts of the body like the brain and spine.
“They are warriors. I go with them to the hospital many times, and they get IVs, they get drops in their eyes and they are just warriors,” Jeanne told the station.
Carter is set to undergo his next chemotherapy treatment on Feb. 17, the second of six treatments, according to WTHR-TV. The Rush family is also pushing the federal government to put more funding into pediatric cancer research.
But for now, Angie is just happy that her kids are doing their best to enjoy their childhood.
“They’re smart and they’re kind; they’re definitely a joy to have,” Angie told 11Alive.