By Janelle Burrell


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – He’s a little boy full of spunk, energy, and heart. But 1-year-old Vincent Nowroozi is fighting a fierce battle most of us will never know.

“They’ve been extremely difficult. The hardest thing we’ve been through in our entire lives,” Vincent’s mother, Natalie Nowroozi, said.

Last year, when he was just 3 months old, Vincent’s mother noticed that his head was slightly tilting. Not satisfied with the initial diagnosis they received, she and her husband took him for a second opinion. The answer they got shook them to their core.

“He looked like a normal healthy baby so for someone to come in and tell us he had masses on his brain, was almost impossible to believe,” Nowroozi said.

The two masses were cancerous brain tumors and at the time, only one of them was operable. The next day, Vincent was rushed into surgery.

“They came to us and told us that he had ‘ATRT’ or atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors,” Nowroozi said.

ATRT is a very rare form of cancer. In the United States, only about 30 children a year are diagnosed.

Doctors told Natalie and Vincent’s father, Ramin Nowroozi, that their son had a less than a 10% chance of surviving more than 11 months.

They were faced with two options — start him on a high-dose chemotherapy regime and hope it would kill the aggressive cancer cells or forego treatment altogether.

“We’re not gonna not try. As much as we don’t want to do this to our son and give him chemotherapy, we have to try. Because if we don’t, we’ll never be able to live with ourselves and say what if,” Natalie Nowroozi said.

And so together with their community and with Vincent’s older sister, they rallied around their little boy, watching him bravely endure the harsh and debilitating effects of chemo – when things suddenly got even worse.

This past April, Vincent had a severe reaction to a chemo medication, sending him into rapid liver failure. His parents were told to prepare to say goodbye.

But somehow, as he always has, Vincent managed to recover.

“He’s definitely the strongest kid. As an adult, watching a child go through chemotherapy, you realize these kids are stronger than any adult,” Ramin Nowroozi said.

His parents say he’s made it this far along with the prayers, cards, and well wishes of countless supporters.

“All over, all over the country they come,” Natalie Nowroozi said as she shows boxes full of cards for Vincent.

Because the most effective chemo drugs are too risky to give Vincent, for now all Vincent’s family can do is wait, hoping for a scientific breakthrough and for Vincent to continue living up to the meaning of his name – conquering all of the battles ahead.

“He’s beating every odd. We’re just gonna have faith that he’s gonna continue to do that,” Natalie Nowroozi said.

Right now, Vincent is being treated with less harsh oral chemotherapy. So far, he has gone through six brain surgeries and countless procedures.

He continues to go to the hospital almost daily for occupational and physical therapy as he works to regain some the function he lost from the surgeries.

Janelle Burrell