"If Patrick doesn't have surgery within fifteen minutes, he's going to die."
That's what the surgeon told us at the Boston Children's Hospital, two long years ago.
Patrick was just a normal four-year-old kid up until then. He loved superheroes, playing with trucks, and trying to ride the family's yellow lab when his mom wasn't looking.
But then he started getting headaches...
His parents eventually took him to the doctor, who said that it was probably just the flu - "Take him home and get plenty of rest and fluids".
And that's what they did.
But, later that night, Patrick had a seizure and wouldn't wake up. An MRI at the hospital quickly explained why - there was a tumor the size of a golf ball on the base of his brain.
After ten long hours of surgery, that tumor was successfully removed, and we all breathed a sigh of relief... but unfortunately the relief was short-lived, and the fight wasn't over.
The cancer had spread to spots along his spine, which meant chemo.
The next twenty-eight weeks were spent in a cycle of eight days in the hospital for treatment followed by seven days at home. During which time Patrick also had to re-learn how to walk, since the surgery had left him 50% paralyzed on his right side.
But, thanks to physical therapy (and racing his new tricycle around the hospital hallways) his motor functions slowly came back, and an MRI scan showed no sign of the disease once the chemo was finished.
And a second scan one month later showed the same.
As anyone would expect, we thought the treatment was a success and the worst was behind us.
But, after that short period of joy, we found out that the cancer had returned.
Which meant that Patrick had to endure more chemo. More radiation. The pain of having a permanent tube in his stomach for food, not being able to go to school, and losing his hair - which had just started to grow back.
You wouldn't think that a five-year-old would be self-conscious about being bald, but he was.
Eventually, though, after six more grueling months of treatment, we finally got word that the cancer was gone for a second time. But, in what seemed like a twisted deja vu, the bad news repeated itself.
One-month scan, clear. Two-month scan, clear.
But now, just past the three-month mark...the cancer is back and worse than ever.
Which is how we wound up sitting across from an Oncologist two weeks ago, hearing the words, "This isn't curative. There's nothing curative that we can do at this point. This is just to buy him time in the hope that another treatment becomes available. Maybe a year or two."
Maybe a year or two...
That was hard.
But... this has been hard from the beginning. And, just like eighteen months ago, we refuse to give up hope.
There are clinical trials and other treatment options available for Patrick that show extremely strong promise... but they're expensive. And, despite the amazing support that our family has received from the Dana Farber Institute, the Jimmy Fund, and other great organizations... the costs continue to add up.
It's never easy to ask for help, but sometimes it's the only option.
So, if you're out there reading this and can spare some small contribution, no matter the amount, it would mean the world to our family. Or, if you're not in a position to donate but could spare a second to hit the share button above to help spread the story, that would be greatly appreciated as well.
Patrick may never see your face or know your name, but hopefully, with all of our support, we can find a way to cure him of this terrible disease for good.
So that someday soon he can go back to being a normal kid again, playing with those trucks and trying to ride the dog.