PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Today is our 15th annual Alex Scott: A Stand For Hope telethon, raising money for childhood cancer research and to help families dealing with a cancer diagnosis. We want you to meet Kade Fuller. His mom knew something was wrong, and her persistence meant life-saving treatments for her son.
Treatments that were miles and miles away from home, and they got there with the help of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
Like many 2-year-olds, Kade loves Paw Patrol and Marvel superhero movies. But unlike most other kids, this laidback toddler is a hero himself — a cancer hero.
“I want to say between 18 months and 24 months, I started noticing a glow in his eye,” Kennedy Hines, Kade’s mom, said.
But it wasn’t easy to see — even his pediatrician couldn’t spot it. COVID-19 hit, making it nearly impossible to get an appointment with an eye doctor. They waited and noticed the glow in Kade’s eye was growing.
“It’s like a pandemic getting in the way,” Ryan Fuller, Kade’s father, said, “and it was like sending our anxiety through the roof.”
Finally, on July 17, 2020, their fears were confirmed.
The ophthalmologist said Kade had a mass that was later determined to be retinoblastoma — cancer.
“When we finally got the diagnosis with Kade, it took out breath away,” Ryan said. “We didn’t know what to expect, what the stages and stuff like that. And we started researching and we researched and there was kids losing their lives and losing their eyes and naturally, we started freaking out.”
Kade faced intense surgery and then chemotherapy.
The family, from Hampton, Virginia, needed to bring Kade to Philadelphia for treatment.
“We had three hospitals we had to visit,” Kennedy said. “Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Wills Eye, where Dr. Shields and her team were, and Thomas Jefferson Memorial across the street.”
That’s a five or six-hour drive once a month for nearly six months.
With Ryan out of work because of an injury and Kennedy taking time off to take care of Kade, “your two-income family household, down to zero income,” Kennedy said with a laugh.
“We knew what we wanted to do, which was save our son’s life,” she said, “but we didn’t know how we were going to come up with the funds.”
“We put it in God’s hands and God sent us to Alex’s Lemonade Stand,” Ryan said.
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s Travel For Care program helped the family with gas for the long drives and lodging for their stays in Philadelphia.
It was a tough road for Kade and his whole family.
Kade’s parents weren’t surprised, though, that through it all, he was the strong one among them.
“They were freaking out, we were freaking out,” Ryan said. “Kids naturally would act out and things like that if they don’t know what’s going on and he came into the room, or we came back from Philly and he started bugging his sister. They tightened up and they were just full of love and joy. He sets the tone for the house. He’s the path leader.”
Kade finished treatment — and this November, he will be considered in remission. His parents couldn’t be more thankful for their team of physicians.
“They took the reigns and they got it done for us,” Ryan said. “They gave us our life back.”