20 Months Old at Diagnosis.
In May 2012, when Timothy W. Nida III (Trey, for short) was only 20 months old, he was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in his bladder/prostate. It was a shock to his parents Timothy and Cassandra, who were saddened to know that their youngest son had cancer. They were also concerned because they knew of the drastic changes that would come with his treatment.
“I was worried about how he would react to his treatments and of course, about his survival rate.”
After initial diagnosis, Trey underwent an MRI, and because he was so young, he had to be sedated for his MRIs and other studies. He was then seen by a pediatric urologist, who performed his biopsy surgery. After his cancer was confirmed, he had his port placed and started chemo on May 22nd.
“After getting his biopsy surgery and MRI, our oncologist was very optimistic about his long-term rate of survival, which I think really helped to ease our minds.”
Trey was soon enrolled in a study sponsored by CureSearch, which compared the current treatment plan for initial treatment for rhabdo and treatment that is given to children with recurrence of rhabdo. He was in the study arm, which is the treatment that was given to kids with recurrence.
The treatment was 43 weeks of chemo with six weeks of radiation starting at week 4 of treatment. It was a combination of weekly chemo, and every three weeks he had his longer, more aggressive medications, where it was either 1-2 days in the hospital for treatment or 5 days of daily outpatient chemo.
Because Trey was so young, most of his response to treatment was based on how his parents felt and were acting. They tried to make it a fun time, which made it much more enjoyable and tolerable for everyone. Luckily, Trey was too young to really know much about what was going on with his treatment.
“It just became normal life to him. He asked at one time when his little sister was going to have to do her chemo.”
Trey did well with his chemo, enjoying his time in the hospital, playing on the iPad, doing puzzles and even flirting with the nurses. However, he started to slow down after radiation and needed a few blood transfusions, and he had an unexpected stay in the hospital for a week due to his counts being low. After he rebounded from radiation, he finished his chemo strong, with little side effects, after his parents figured out how to keep him from getting sick in the car.
During Trey’s treatment, the Nidas also had a newborn to care for (sister Taelyn was 2 months old when Trey was diagnosed). There were a lot of nights spent in the hospital taking care of both Trey and his sister, who wasn’t a good sleeper. But thanks to the amazing support from their family, who helped care for Trey’s sister, the family could spend more time together and share caring duties with the children.
It was during treatment that the family decided to support and donate CureSearch with their first fundraiser.
“Once we received his diagnosis, we were shocked to see the lack of funding and awareness directed toward childhood cancer. We want to do our part to raise funds and awareness toward childhood cancer to help improve outcomes and help to develop new treatments with fewer long term side effects.”
Today, Trey is doing great – he just hit his 4-year cancer-free mark this past March! He’s an active kindergartner who enjoys going to school, reading, building things with Legos and playing video games with dad. He also loves sports – his favorite team is the Cavs and he enjoys playing basketball, soccer and baseball.
To his parents, he is a superhero because he not only beat cancer, but he did it with such a great attitude. “We were always proud to hear about what a great patient he was and how it was never a struggle to get him to do his treatments or take his medicine.”
Trey is actively involved in fundraising activities for CureSearch and other organizations that support local children fighting cancer. In fact, he’s so passionate about the fight against cancer, that his parents decided to use the money they raised through fundraising to start their own non-profit, Tribute to Trey.
“We had a few fundraisers while Trey was in treatment, because people wanted to support our family, but we decided that this money was better spent with organizations like CureSearch, who could help all children get a better chance of survival, just like Trey had. We are proud of the money that we have raised and donated to many worthy organizations, and happy to give back to the Cleveland Clinic pediatric oncology unit where Trey underwent treatment.”
To the Nida family, supporting children’s cancer research is important because it discovers the new treatments that work and those that don’t. It’s a vital part in determining how cancer is treated in the child, which is very different than adults, and it helps to create new cancer drugs. It also develops new studies for early diagnosis and genetic testing, to better tailor a treatment toward the type of cancer a child has.
Research will also find better treatments and medications with less side effects, to give all superheroes, just like Trey, a fighting chance.
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