Won't back down
Cole is an active kid who enjoys hiking with his dog, Stannis. Even a brain tumor can't diminish his love of life and its adventures.
Dogs are Cole’s main love. He’s happiest when his dog, Stannis, is running alongside him. “But he also loves nature,” said his mom, Christen. “He’s very eco-friendly. He’s a tree-hugger.”
“Cole loves being outdoors,” agreed Eric, his dad. “He loves to camp and hike our local hills and trails.”
A year ago, Cole’s family was set off track when they learned he suffered from a rare, cancerous brain tumor called a medulloblastoma. He underwent surgery at a local hospital to remove the tumor. After Cole recovered, his parents turned to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for his continuing care.
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Cole’s treatment at St. Jude included 30 rounds of proton therapy and four rounds of chemotherapy.
“Because Cole’s type of medulloblastoma was low risk, he was able to receive reduced chemotherapy and proton therapy, which means reduced side effects,” Christen explained.
Cole’s protocol also included regular occupational and physical therapies, which helped him begin to regain the strength he lost. These sessions also helped him focus on returning to all the activities he enjoyed before his diagnosis.
Cole finished treatment in late 2018 and visits St. Jude for regular scans. Since returning home to California, Cole has worked hard to get back on track. Within the first few weeks of returning home, Cole did a ropes course and zip line. “He was a little shaky, but he got it done and had a great time,” Eric said.
Recently, Cole went snowboarding for the first time. With his helmet securely on his head and goggles over his eyes, Cole took a deep breath and went down his first hill. “It was a great day,” Eric said. “Cole was on his snowboard the whole time.”
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Cole isn’t planning on slowing down anytime soon. He has an overnight backpacking trip coming up and has been training with his dad and Stannis, back on the local hills and trails he loves so much. “Stannis is always with us,” Eric said. “Thick as thieves, those two are.”
Christen knows that Cole’s experiences will have a profound effect on him moving forward. “His battle against cancer and the experiences he’s had during the last year will make him a better human being,” she said. “St. Jude saved our son’s life. And they’re going to allow him to live a life.”
Since Cole has finished treatment, we’ve just been living life and enjoying our time together. We are so grateful, not just for St. Jude saving his life, but for giving him the best chance at an amazing life.
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