Jonathan is a mega super hero forever when it comes to kids with Leukemia. What would normally make the bravest adults give up completely, doesn’t even slow him down. He started fighting hard against cancer in 2003, at the age of five, and almost a decade later, he is still defying the odds. He can withstand any challenge: low counts, fever, chickenpox, years of chemotherapy, multiple relapses, partial loss of his vision, and even a bone marrow transplant. He has had only a few small breaks from his super-human battles against this nasty villainous disease; but still, somehow, he finds the time to excel in school. Seriously, what kid can give an excuse for not turning in their math homework, when Jonathan hands his over with a smile?
But what exactly makes Jonathan so strong? His big heart? His welcoming grin? His loving parents and brothers? His new baby sister to guide and inspire? His abundance of friends who come out to support him at his many fundraisers? His ability to enjoy life regardless of the pain and setbacks that his cancer has thrown at him on a constant basis? Regardless of the answer, clearly, he’s an exceptional wonder boy with many sources of power at his fingertips and our Hero Forever!
If you catch him resting every once in a while, don’t be fooled. Occasionally, he might look tired, but everyone around him knows he is full of love and warmth and fight! He defines popularity. Anyone who meets him is instantly infected with the need to reciprocate all the friendliness he routinely dishes out. He’s so likable. Anytime you face an ever-expanding mountain of hardship, you should think of Jonathan and know that winning is always an option!
Amy LeClaire’s Story
Amy, our spunky and active 7 year old daughter, had been complaining of stomach pains for awhile, and we had thought that she possibly had food allergies. Her appetite had become minimal, and she was starting not to feel well in general. We brought her to the pediatrician several times and then ended up at a Gastrointestinal Specialist. She went from an x-ray, to an ultrasound, to a CAT scan in one day. After the imaging, they found that she had a mass the size of a Kleenex box in her small abdomen.
On February 26th 2009, our little daughter was officially diagnosed with a malignant abdominal tumor following exploratory surgery. Initially, they could not confirm what kind of tumor it was, and they had to send the biopsies away to be evaluated. They told us it was a “nasty” tumor, and they started very aggressive chemotherapy on March 4th. She ended up staying in the hospital for over a month. The tumor was disintegrating so fast because of the chemo, it caused a bowel obstruction. The tumor had been adhered to the intestine, and as it was shrinking, it pulled the intestine into a 90 degree angle and caused the bowel obstruction. She had surgery to correct this, and it took awhile for her to start eating. She also had intermittent hospital stays for various reasons, but she always had a positive attitude, and usually a smile on her face!
They did determine that the huge mass was a Wilm’s tumor, which is in the kidney. Usually this tumor will grow into the kidney, but Amy’s tumor grew out from the kidney, and this is very unusual. She has had many ups and downs with the effect of chemo and her body recovering from such a large tumor. The tumor and her kidney were removed May 24th, and she had 6 days of radiation therapy after the removal.Her last day of chemo was September 14, 2009. We are beyond grateful for her recovery, and for the research that has gone on for decades prior to Amy’s Wilm’s tumor. Without it, there would not be the expertise needed to treat her and allow her to have a complete recovery.
In the beginning of May 2009, we were invited to attend a Heroes Forever weekend at the YMCA of the Rockies at Snow Mountain Ranch in Winter Park. After all Amy and the rest of us had been through, this was a weekend that gave us all hope that life could become normal again. We found support, peers, and a new found trust that everything would be “OK”. We were so grateful to have this opportunity to be with others who had gone through something like this before us, and others who were in similar situations. Heroes Forever made a big difference in Amy’s outlook, and continues to be a group and community for Amy, her twin brother Ben, and her parents to belong to, and do things with on a regular basis.
Amy continues to have a quarterly MRI and CT Scan to make sure that she is “clean” of any cancer. She had her first in February, and received a clean status, and her next one will be April 30th. Amy’s oncologist, Dr. Julie Zimbelman, never says Amy is cured of her cancer but forever in remission.
Andrea, Amy, Ben and Mike
Amy and her dad
Amy and her mom
Emily in 2009
A couple of years ago, Emily Rose Funk was a normal 5-year-old playing soccer and taking ballet. Her arm was really sore one night after ballet, so her parents, Steve and Margaret Funk, thinking she probably just strained her arm, took her in for an x-ray "just to be sure". Little did they know their lives would forever be changed. Emily and her parents were plopped right into the Children's Hospital of Denver's Oncology/Hematology unit. Emily was diagnosed with Osteorsarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Though she has undergone treatment and surgery, and her cancer is no longer visible, Emily will have to undergo more surgeries to physically bring the arm back to normal. Inspite of the medical treatments and hospital stays, Emily is a typical 3rd grader at Bethlehem Lutheran School. The Bethlehem family has been an incredible support to Emily, her parents Steve and Margaret and her younger brother Andrew.
Emily and her brother Andrew
Emily, Andrew and Dad
Heroes Forever is a non-profit tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization. EIN 26-2614414 Copyright 2009 Heroes Forever. All Rights Reserved.
Providing support and planning fun for families who have a child with cancer.