After Hurricane Matthew ripped through the Caribbean and moved toward the east coast of the United States, some residents of coastal Georgia had a decision to make. Should they hunker down and stay put or flee their homes until the storm moved out into the ocean? For most the decision was made clear when Georgia Governor Nathan Deal ordered everyone east of Interstate 95 to evacuate.
Faced with this, what would you do? Would you defy reason, logic, and the law to stay behind, or would you pack whatever you could carry and hit the crowded interstate headed west?
If you are five-year-old Tenacious John, you would lie in bed, snuggle your stuffed angelfish and ride out the storm. He is just that tough.
Unfortunately, despite the Governor’s mandate and the storm headed their way, John was unable to leave. You see, John has neuroblastoma – a childhood cancer that develops from immature nerve cells found in several areas of the body. Fresh off of surgery to remove a tumor on his adrenal gland, John was immobile and relatively unconcerned about the storm outside. In fact, John never even bothered to wake up during the entire hurricane, even when two tornado warnings forced his caregivers to wheel his bed into the hallway.
While the hurricane was raging around them, his mother, Ashley said they could hear the wind and rain, but the building made them feel safe. Some water that leaked in around a few windows was their only exposure to the elements. The entire family stayed together in the hospital, and one of their biggest challenges was keeping John’s two-year-old brother entertained during the ordeal. Ashley is extremely thankful for the dedicated staff at Memorial University Medical Center who stayed with them and other patients who couldn’t leave.
Ironically, weeks before the surgery John decided that the doctors were going to use “wind medicine” to blow out the tumor. Little did he know that the wind would be outside the hospital and not in the operating room.
Although the storm is now gone, John still has a long way to go. He will have more chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, and radiation before he is through with cancer. Brave and hopeful, nothing can stop the boy who slept through one of the roughest storms in Savannah’s history. John beat the hurricane, and in a little while he will laugh in the face of cancer, too.
See what CURE is doing to ensure more tenacious kids like John can weather their storms.