When David’s right eye began to droop and swell in January 2019, another parent in his Cub Scout troop, who works in neurology, urged his mom to bring him in for a look. When she did, a CT scan revealed a tumor in David’s orbital socket, diagnosed as rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of soft tissue cancer.
The cancer “was trying to take over the space where the eye is supposed to sit,” said his mom, Talibah. David was immediately referred to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“When you're first told that your child has a tumor, of course fear takes over,” Talibah said. “The biggest part of it was the unknown. But I can truly say that by the following Monday, things were a lot better. From the time we walked through the door of St. Jude, no question was off the table. It could be the same question three or four different ways. They were patient enough to walk through it, give us the information that we needed."
The thing about it is, this isn't their first case. This is what they do. It's our first case, yes, but it's not their first case. They wouldn't be the leading research children's hospital if they didn't know what they were doing.
St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
David’s treatment at St. Jude includes chemotherapy and proton therapy. Because St. Jude strives to administer treatment on an outpatient basis as much as possible, he was able to continue attending school with his classmates almost the entire academic year.
At school, David is the kid everybody knows.
“It's really amazing,” said Talibah. “We'll be walking somewhere, some kid will just randomly run up: ‘Hey, David!’ And I'll have to look, ‘Who's that?’ And it's always been that way.”
His mom describes him as strong-willed and an individual — a leader, not a follower. Reading is his favorite subject in school, and he especially likes comics and joke books.