Nolan’s Dream – August 31, 2010

by: Jenna Thistle

When Sandra and Jason had baby Nolan, they were in love at first sight. At six months old, Nolan began showing some odd symptoms. The most concerning was that he appeared to be getting wider but not taller. This brought the family to the Janeway. Dr. Hickey knew something was wrong. Nolan had Cushing’s Syndrome, which was the reason he was growing out, not up. The same day, Nolan was sent for an ultrasound. When the results came back, the family was informed that there was a mass but that they should go home, since it had been a Friday evening, enjoy their weekend and come back on Monday prepared to stay for an extended amount of time. The doctors were preparing them for what was to come.

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Monday morning came, and Nolan was admitted to the Janeway. After the six-month-old had received a biopsy, the family met with the oncology team. Nolan was diagnosed with Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma. Sandra and Jason were told that this was an extremely rare cancer, affecting only 1 or 2 in every million. Nolan was already at stage 4 and was given less than a 20% chance to live. With one solid tumor in his adrenal gland, there were also traces of cancer in his lungs, lymph nodes, and ribs. The doctors had to remove Nolan’s tumour along with his adrenal gland, leaving him adrenal deficient. The news was devastating for the family. Immediately, Nolan began his chemotherapy. He would receive eight days of chemo and then have two days off. During those down days, the family was required to stay within 30 minutes of the hospital in case something went awry. Unfortunately, they were rarely able to leave due to Nolan’s consistent fever from the chemo. After the eight months and a successful round of treatment, Nolan was able to check out and would only be required to return every three months for scans. During these visits, the doctors were still trying to figure out how to get the steroids to work properly for baby Nolan’s adrenal deficiency.

Nolan relapsed twice in the following years. The first time was in 2008 when he was almost three years old. This time, they were unable to give him chemo, so they did surgery to remove the new spot from the lining of his chest cavity wall. Similarly, in 2009, the same thing happened. There was another spot in the lining of his chest cavity but due to the high concentration of scar tissue they were unable to do anything. At this point, things looked grim. The doctors told Nolan’s family there was less than a 5% chance of survival. That year he missed 52 days of kindergarten.

It was around this time that Sandra had heard about The Dream Fund. While they were in the hospital, Nolan and his family had come across another little boy’s Dream presentation and decided they would look into it. Just after his 3rd treatment, Nolan had his very own Dream come true.