Childhood Cancer

Meet 2024 Ambassador Aaron: A Huge Fan of Queen, Guitar, Lionel Messi, and Giving Back

by St. Baldrick's Foundation
January 8, 2024

Aaron smiling from ear to ear with his guitar.

Aaron and his guitar.

Resilient, positive, and determined are a few words that describe 16-year-old Aaron. These traits served him well through his battle with cancer and continue to guide his life today.

When he was 4, Aaron stopped walking. An MRI revealed the cause – a tumor on his spine. His mom, Beth, recalls, “They didn’t wake him up between the MRI and surgery. I remember whispering in his ear that if he made it though, he would get a puppy.” Surgery successfully removed 90% of the tumor. A few days later, his family received the official diagnosis – Ewing sarcoma, a rare bone and soft tissue cancer.

Cancer treatment started right away, even while he was still re-learning how to walk.

Two months later, Aaron sported a Charlie Brown shirt for his fifth birthday. Having lost his hair from treatment, Aaron was bald just like the beloved cartoon character. His parents always tried to frame his diagnosis and treatment in a positive light.

Aaron in his Charlie Brown shirt.

Aaron in his Charlie Brown shirt.

Over the course of seven months, Aaron endured more than any child should. In addition to another two surgeries and physical therapy, he underwent 14 rounds of chemotherapy and 28 rounds of proton beam radiation. Aaron and his parents had to travel six hours from home for his radiation treatments. To get through proton treatments, Aaron would listen to Katy Perry’s song, “Firework,” on repeat. In six weeks, it was played more than 440 times (the proton techs still reach out to Aaron whenever they hear the song). In all, Aaron spent 82 nights in the hospital during treatment.

Aaron with family and hospital staff during his last day of chemo.

Aaron on his last day of chemo.

Yet, 12 years later, Aaron takes it all in stride. During a recent cancer symposium Aaron spoke at, he said, “My life is normal.” His mom smiled. She said, “I knew that statement was from us. We have tried to make something that is totally not normal something he could handle. He views the hospital team as his extended family and never complains about the dozens of appointments he has during the year.”

Aaron is so much more than his cancer diagnosis. He is an accomplished guitar player (his favorite band is Queen) and plays tennis for his high school varsity team. He is an avid reader (he is a huge Rick Riordan fan), but like most teenagers he also loves video games and movies (his favorite movie is The Princess Bride, and God of War Ragnarök is his number one video game). And while he competes in tennis, soccer is his favorite sport, with Lionel Messi of Inter Miami being his favorite athlete.

Aaron plying his guitar.

Aaron in his element, playing his guitar.

His close-knit family celebrates each day. At a recent Inter Miami game, Messi entered the game for the final free kick. Aaron shared, “We all had our arms around each other and when he shot the goal and scored, we cheered, jumped up and down, hugged, and high fived each other.”

Aaron with his parents and two brothers.

Aaron and his family.

The Pinsky family also believes in giving back and has helped raise more than $400,000 through their annual St. Baldrick’s event. Beth says, “It is almost a selfish thing. We get to spend months with friends planning the event. I get why my family does this work, but my friends who work endless hours on our event amaze me! The day of the event is so special. It’s just a giant party where we are surrounded by friends, family, our hospital heroes, and other amazing people who just show up for the cause!  It turns into not only an event for research and hope, but also a place for us to thank so many people for standing with us during this journey.”

Left - Aaron shaving his head, Middle - Aaron with his parents and brother at a head-shaving event, Right - Aaron and his brother holding an 'after' sign at a head-shaving event.

Left – Aaron shaving his head in 2019, Middle – Aaron and his parents and brother at the 2019 head-shaving event, Right – Aaron and his brother post shave in 2023.

Through it all, Aaron is grateful for the support of his mom and dad, Beth and Josh, and younger brothers Zachary and Evan. Zachary was just 14 months old when Aaron was diagnosed. They were away from each other for long stretches and always excited to be reunited. Zach worries about his brother, always putting Aaron’s needs in front of his own. For Evan, cancer is just part of history.

Aaron with his two brothers posing on a bed.

Aaron with his brothers, Zachary and Evan.

Aaron will continue to face the ups and downs ahead with the signature determination that has gotten him this far.

Oh, and that dog he was promised… It finally came after five years of clean scans!

Aaron holding his dog, Leia.

Aaron and his dog, Leia.

Help fund research to find cures and better treatments for kids like Aaron.


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