If you’re a parent, you planned for the arrival of your child. You love them with all your heart and wonder what the future might hold.
Does he want to play baseball or hockey?
Should she have art class or piano lessons?
What job would he get?
Who would she date?
Never in your dreams you’d ask – would my child have cancer? And will he survive?
That became our reality April 14, 2003. Not only were we told our son had cancer, he had one of the deadliest types. At 4 ½, CJ was diagnosed with Stage4 Neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer with a 5 year survival rate under 30%.
We fought as a family and CJ survived … he was in remission 5 years after his diagnosis. We were holding our breath but hoping for the best as statistics showed children having survived past 5 years often stood a good chance.
But our family was devastated once again early 2009 when we found out CJ had never completely gotten rid of his cancer. The cause of relapse is usually from minimal residual disease, undetectable by tests and scans – which is the biggest challenge with Neuroblastoma.
CJ’s condition became unique, even within a rare childhood cancer. He went through 2 ½ years of treatment including both conventional therapy and clinical trials. We had long conversations with his doctor, in search of the “silver bullet”. But sadly, the “silver bullet” has not yet been found.
Curtis was determined to beat his cancer – his goal was not to let any more cancer cells get away ever again. As his family, we did our best to cheer him on when he went through 2 open belly surgeries, 17 rounds of chemotherapy, 3 weeks of radiation and many, many pokes & pills.
If love could have saved him, he never would have died. But our love and the best paediatric care in Canada were not enough. His cancer became unstoppable and he took a nosedive in June of 2011.
Watching our only son deteriorate before our eyes, I spent many nights during his last few weeks saying to my husband, “This is not right …”
Trying to prepare our daughter for the worst, we were not able to answer why she might have to lose her only brother. All I could say to her was, “I don’t know, but this is not right …”
When CJ slipped away in his sleep on July 7 and I walked into a home he would never set foot in again, all I could think was, “This is not right ….”
Having lived with cancer most of his life, CJ was certainly spoiled by people closest to him. He developed a love for video games during his initial treatment and his desires to play new games were seldom denied. He wanted to be a game critic when he grew up, if he was supposed to have fun doing his job.
At the same time, he knew about hardship more than most adults. On various occasions when things demanded of him were beyond an average person’s imagination, he would say, “This cancer is giving me a difficult life …” As his fight against Neuroblastoma got tougher and his appreciation for life got stronger, he no longer wanted to be a video game critic. Instead, he wanted a job to help people. He wanted his life to make a difference. He thought doctors were heroes but decided it would have been too hard to become one.
Curtis said many times during his last 6 months that he would never let the cancer win. He would say, “I can do it. I’ve done it before & I’ll do it again. I know it …” He prayed consistently for all the children, and adults, who also had cancer. He wished every child with cancer would win the fight.
Now that we can no longer see him, touch him or hear his voice, the only way our family could trade in our sorrow is to carry out CJ’s wishes on his behalf. Curtis Chow Memorial Fund has been set up to invest in the brightest scientists and best doctors to find that ever elusive “silver bullet” in beating Neuroblastoma, to spare even one family to have to go through what we’ve gone through and are still struggling with every day.
With the knowledge and expertise of his doctors, we will be able to put his fund to work right away. Research will be done to tackle the most difficult medical aspects with Curtis’ relapse. He would be pleased if that work could eventually lead to more personalized medicine and better treatment for children fighting against Neuroblastoma.
You can help us keep Curtis’ memory, his fighting spirit and his perseverance, alive. You can help other children be blessed because of CJ’s life. You will continue to hear from us about Curtis Chow Memorial Fund and how it helps fight Neuroblastoma.