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Ross and Heather Strunk already had a full house with their three daughters. But they wanted to try for a son and were soon surprised to find out they were going to have two. They welcomed twin boys, Charles and Edward, on November 1, 2022. Life got quite a bit more hectic… and noisy.

“I like to say that our house is loud but full of love,” said Heather. “Someone is constantly moving around, and it is a very rare moment when we are all still.”

They had no way of knowing that life was about to get much busier. When Charles was three months old, Heather noticed a bump near his ear while sitting in church. She thought it might be a mosquito bite. But she realized it was causing pain when she touched it. The next morning, it was larger and purple.

She bundled Charles to the emergency room, where he was treated for an ear infection. But even after taking a course of antibiotics, it continued to grow. Her pediatrician thought it might be a clogged lymph node or ingrown hair.

“My mother’s intuition was telling me it was something different,” recalled Heather. “It continued to grow and grow until it began to change the shape of his face. When his eye was swollen shut, I knew we had to get to someone who could figure this out.”

Heather took Charles to the emergency room again and refused to leave until they had a diagnosis. After a biopsy, they were told that Charles had Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH), an incredibly rare, cancer-like condition. It happens when a person’s body makes too many immature Langerhans cells that build up and can form tumors or damage tissue, bone, and organs.

“My world just dropped with those three letters,” Heather said. “I was absolutely crushed.”

A few days later, he had his port placed and began chemotherapy.

“He was diagnosed at night and didn’t get to the oncology floor until 3 am,” Heather shared. “My husband and I didn’t sleep and had no clue what we were doing. That day, CURE was serving lunch in the family room, but we were both too emotional and exhausted to get it. Emily from CURE knocked on my door and asked if I wanted a sandwich. I immediately burst into tears! She hugged me and asked if I wanted turkey or ham. I couldn’t stop crying to answer. So I held up two fingers, and she got me a ham sandwich. I needed to know I wasn’t alone – and that moment told me that I wasn’t.”

Charles’ treatment lasted eleven months, and he has reacted fairly well to the steroids and chemo. He was delayed in walking and was given a prescription for physical therapy to help. He never needed it because he started walking the very next day and hasn’t slowed down.

Charles’ latest scans indicate that the chemo is working, and there has been no tumor growth. With nothing to slow him down, he spends as much time as possible outside and loves to play with trucks. He also loves to cuddle his mother. And while she leads a busy life with all her kids, Heather knows just how special those cuddles are and will stop anything to take them.