Caden was born on June 30, 2008, almost a month early. With the exception of a treatable heart condition, Caden was an otherwise healthy, smart, kind, and loving little boy growing up in Bozeman, Montana. Caden was a good natured baby and toddler that loved cars, trucks, trains, and animals, especially his cat and dog. From birth, he could be found spending his summers camping at the lake, often entertaining his older half-siblings and all others he encountered with his silly antics. Winters were spent exploring Montana’s snowy landscape and learning to ski. At age 3, he started pre-school and was especially proud of becoming a big brother in October 2011.
In March 2012, three months shy of his 4th birthday, Caden began complaining of leg pain while on vacation in Utah. Perhaps it was the long car ride or a twisted ankle from playing in the pool or just a way of getting attention. The complaints were intermittent and no one thought much of them. About a week after returning home, Caden developed a low-grade fever and began complaining of neck and hip pain. The fever and pain persisted for 4 days, and Caden became very lethargic, refusing to even walk to the bathroom. Blood work at the pediatrician’s office showed very high sedimentation rates and CRP values, both indicators of inflammation in the body. He was also anemic, but his other blood cell counts were normal. Caden’s doctor admitted him to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital for further evaluation. He had X-rays, bone scans, ultrasounds, EKGs, CT scans, and lots of physical exams. Nothing was lining up to provide a clear diagnosis and his fever and pain continued. On the 4th day in the hospital, an MRI showed abnormalities in his bone marrow in several areas of his body – hips, legs, and spine. It also showed that one of his adrenal glands (gland above the kidney) was slightly enlarged. These findings meant that Caden needed to have further bone marrow testing and the expertise of Hematology and Oncology doctors at a pediatric hospital.
On March 30, 2012, Caden was flown 700 miles from home to Seattle Children’s Hospital. The initial fear was leukemia, but tests pointed toward another type of cancer – Neuroblastoma. On April 3, doctors in Seattle diagnosed Caden with Stage 4, High Risk Neuroblastoma.
Caden began an intense regime of chemotherapy on April 7, 2012. Six rounds of high dose chemotherapy were administered over 5 months. On July 30, the primary tumor site and adrenal gland were removed. Slowly, between the associated side effects of vomiting, exhaustion, mouth and throat sores, blood infections, and viruses, Caden’s strength and cheerful, funny nature returned. He began to walk, even run, and play with his sister again. His adaptability to such challenges and continued sense of humor have been an inspiration to all. His greatest wish is to see his home again and pet his cat.
Scans in late August revealed that although the amount of cancer in Caden’s body is not getting worse and is improving, it did not respond as well as hoped, nor enough to proceed with the anticipated autologous bone marrow transplant. Caden has since completed a seventh round of chemotherapy and will travel to San Francisco for specialized, experimental radiation therapy. Caden will continue his fight against this horrible disease, and we long for the day when a cure is found.