Declan has a very best friend in all the world, and it’s his little sister Ellie Reese.
“He does not like when she is out of his sight,” said their mom, Abby. “They are together 24/7. She's seen every time he's been poked and prodded. She holds his hand. We had a conversation in the beginning: are we going to let her see all the nasty parts of the journey? And we decided that we had to because they needed each other. We found our balance, and that's them together.”
That journey began in early 2019. Declan had seen three different doctors for his frequent vomiting. But once he was sent for a CT scan, things moved quickly when they discovered a tumor.
“They admitted us to ICU right away because it was pressing on his brain stem and getting pretty large,” said Abby. “And it had spread to other parts of his brain and his spine.”
The local hospital that performed Declan’s brain surgery recommended St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital right away.
“They said St. Jude would have all the resources he would need for the aggressiveness of his cancer. And so we knew that's what we had to do,” said Abby. “We wanted to come to where we knew he would get the best treatment.”
Especially because Declan’s medulloblastoma tumor subtype is one of the more difficult to treat.
St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Currently, after 30 rounds of proton therapy and seven months of chemotherapy at St. Jude, Declan’s scans show no evidence of disease.
Throughout, St. Jude provided a true sense of security to the whole family. “It’s our comfort blanket,” said Abby. “And another big thing that St. Jude does for us is they always include Ellie Reese. She's never felt left out.”
Indeed, Ellie Reese has been a true partner in Declan’s experience, learning the names of some of his medications, and encouraging him at every therapy appointment. “She even thinks she's a doctor sometimes,” said their dad, Michael.
As Declan nears the end of treatment, Abby and Michael feel sure the kids will miss St. Jude.
“They both call it Aunt Jude. Isn't that funny? If you ask them, it's their Aunt Jude. The days that we don't have appointments and we're not at the hospital, they're like, ‘Are we going to Aunt Jude's?’”
We don't look at St. Jude as a hospital. It's our home. It's gonna be hard to leave.
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