Doing Well and Doing Good
Isaac Parris turned his victory over brain cancer into an opportunity to make a difference for other pediatric patients.
1 brain surgery.
5 blood transfusions.
9 rounds of chemo.
30 radiation treatments.
38 times sedated.
Countless blood tests…
I am a survivor.
Those are the words printed on the back of a t-shirt given to Isaac Parris when he completed 15 months of treatment for a brain tumor.
Isaac had just finished kindergarten in Montgomery, a town near the border of DuPage and Kendall counties, when he started complaining of headaches. In church one Sunday, he screamed out in pain. Though he appeared fine the next moment, his concerned mother brought him to see his pediatrician.
Ten days, five doctor appointments and a CT scan later, April Schippers got the news every parent dreads. “Our pediatrician came out to the waiting room and asked me to sit down,” she remembers.
With a growth in his brain and in need of pediatric specialists, Isaac was admitted to Advocate Children’s Hospital – Park Ridge, home to the Midwest Children’s Brain Tumor Center. Two days after an MRI, neurosurgeon John Ruge, MD, surgically removed Isaac’s mass. Several days later they had a diagnosis: medulloblastoma brain cancer, the most common pediatric brain tumor.
Though fast-growing, medullablastoma is usually curable. Isaac started first grade during his 30 radiation treatments, and then completed nine rounds of chemotherapy at Advocate Children’s Hospital. Today, he is in third grade at Lakewood Creek Elementary School and doing well.
Isaac and his family are also doing good. With their firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to be a hospitalized kid—Isaac spent a total of 25 nights at Advocate Children’s Hospital—they created Camp Out from Cancer kits. Each kit includes a tent, glow bracelets, flashlights, popcorn, and hand-picked books signed by Isaac—everything pediatric oncology patients need to go camping in their hospital room.
“We wanted to find a way to give back and help others who are going through what we went through,” says April. “We had so many people and organizations support us through our journey.”
When April posted photos on Facebook, people wanted to help, so she started a fundraising site to raise money to cover the $45 cost of each kit. “Within a few months, we were close to our goal of $5,000,” she says. “We even started shipping kits to children in other states who have the same type of cancer Isaac had. Isaac loves to be involved.”
The positive feedback the family receives is helping them through the healing process. But it is Isaac’s infectious smile that gives his family strength and keeps them motivated. And that smile is now inspiring thousands of people across the country.
First published: Fall 2013