PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Wednesday is our 16th annual Alex Scott: A Stand For Hope Telethon. We are proud to partner with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to raise money and awareness in the fight against childhood cancer.
One of our family members here at CBS3 knows all too well the fear, sadness, worry — all the emotions — of having a child with cancer.READ MORE: Montgomery County Officer Grazed By Bullet During Philly’s 4th Of July Fireworks Feels ‘Lucky’ To Walk Away From Incident
When Caleb Hendricks was 8 years old, he started having terrible headaches. He can still remember the first one.
“I woke up one morning and I had a splitting migraine. I went into my parents’ room and I was like ‘I don’t feel well. I have a really bad headache.’ I ran to the and bathroom and threw up,” Caleb said.
Then, he started having problems with his vision.
“Every time I went to a plate when I was playing baseball, I always saw two balls and I didn’t know which one to hit. I went up to my dad and I was like, ‘Dad, I don’t know which ball to hit.’ And he’s like, ‘What?'” Caleb said.
Caleb was seen by doctors several times, but because he was otherwise healthy, these issues were chalked up to minor illnesses.
“At the beginning, everyone thought it was just a flu or a really bad cold. My mom was like, ‘It’s a brain tumor. 100%'” Caleb said.
Caleb’s mom happens to be our very own meteorologist Tammie Souza. And sadly, she had been through childhood cancer before — that time, as a sibling, having lost her sister to brain cancer when she was just 4 years old. And she was right, Caleb had a grade 1 glioma.
“They’re telling me he has a tumor the size of a lemon, even a small orange in the head of an 8-year-old,” Souza said.
Once Caleb was diagnosed, he was scheduled for surgery. But before the surgery could happen, his pain grew unbearable and Caleb coded in his parent’s arms. He had to be resuscitated and rushed into emergency surgery.
“When you’re holding your child and that happens, when that thing goes flat, no we were supposed to be in surgery, what do you mean?” Souza said.READ MORE: All Adoption Fees $5 At Philadelphia PSPCA This Saturday
Caleb remembers bits and pieces of that night but says one thing in particular sticks out in his mind.
“When I was going in and I didn’t know if I was going to come out alive,” he said.
Souza credits the power of prayer and an amazing pediatric neurosurgeon with saving Caleb’s life. She also understands how important it is for families to have support through the hardest time in their lives.
“For us, the support we got made the biggest difference. Which is part of why it’s so important to raise funds. You want the research, you want treatments specific to children, not adults. Because they’re totally different people. Different dosages, different treatments and you want support for families and siblings. I was a sibling that lost my sister and they didn’t have that back then either, which was very difficult,” Souza said.
Caleb is now five years out from his brain surgery and miraculously has no side effects from his tumor.
This experience has brought him and his mom even closer than they were before and able to face whatever life throws at them.
“What’s our motto? At least it’s not a brain tumor,” they both said.
We are so happy Caleb is thriving.
As Tammie said, it is so important for organizations to raise money for research into treatments and cures for kids and to offer support for famlies of children fighting cancer.
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation does all of that and more.MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Zoo Giving Visitors Chance To Feed Giraffes
Wednesday is our 16th annual telethon. Phone lines will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. but you can donate now here or text “CBS Alex to 44321.