Ford is a commanding force, in all senses of the word. As a Leo born in August, he truly encompasses all traits of the fierce lion – courageous, fearless, and brave. Not only does he light up a room with his infectious smile, laughter and captivating voice, he draws everyone in like a magnet.
Ford smiling from ear to ear in his lion ears.
His energy is endless, and his fear sees no boundaries, especially in the face of cancer. His thirst for the world and what it has to offer is infinite. He loves exploring nature and is enamored with animals. He also loves the water and takes any chance to jump in a pool or play tag with the ocean! Ford soaks up every day to the fullest.
Ford on the playground.
Ford summoned all his bravery, courage, and determination as he took on the fight of his life against childhood cancer. Here is Ford’s cancer story, written from his perspective.
Ford, the Little Warrior.
Hi there, I’m Ford! At just 9 months young, I was diagnosed with cancer, Ewing sarcoma to be exact. My world was flipped upside down when a tumor was discovered, and I had emergency spinal surgery.
How and why did I get here?
Well, to make a long story short, my parents noticed I was extremely constipated, stopped crawling, stopped eating and would lay on my stomach screaming. With weekly, and then daily visits to my pediatrician, my parents packed their bags and demanded I be admitted to the hospital. After lots of tests and imaging, a tumor was discovered on my spine, paralyzing me from the waist down. Hence all the symptoms I had.
Ford in the hospital.
Unfortunately, the cancer was metastatic- it was also found in my lung. After a two-week recovery in the hospital, waiting for pathology results, it was determined my cancer was Ewing sarcoma – a type of childhood cancer typically found in children and adults, often ages 10-19. At my time of diagnosis, I was one of a handful of infants to be diagnosed with this cancer, making my case extremely rare.
I then had my second of four surgeries to place a port-a-cath in my chest. This is how I would receive my chemo and all IV antibiotics and medicine. During this time, my parents researched and found an oncologist who specialized in Ewing sarcoma at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. We met, loved him and game planned my treatment schedule. Within days, I had a bone marrow biopsy, stem cell retrieval and I started chemotherapy immediately, every 10-14 days.
Ford getting his port-a-cath accessed.
I celebrated my first birthday with my team of nurses and doctors, hooked up to IVs of poison – poison that is limited to a maximum intake due to causing cardiac arrest, among other horrific side effects. For my birthday, an exception was made for both of my parents to be with me in the room, as the world was in the thick of the pandemic, and only one parent at a time was allowed. I was separated from my big brother and sister for days and weeks at a time. We were all separated as a family during my inpatient stays. This was our normal.
Ford waiting for his checkup.
After a few months of chemo, I then began six weeks of daily sedated, proton therapy (radiation), in San Diego. My parents drove me every single day before the sun came up for my treatments, and when it was chemo week, I was admitted to Rady Children’s Hospital and would receive a double whammy of both chemo and radiation in the same day.
Over the next year, I continued my bi-weekly regimen of IV chemotherapy. I’ve had about 55 blood and platelet transfusions (thank you to all blood donors who helped saved my life and others!). I finally rang “the bell” October 22, 2021, signifying my end of treatment. Another year later, I hit a huge milestone, and had my port removed!
Due to the aggressiveness of Ewing sarcoma, I still have monthly lab draws to check my counts and scans every three months for the next five years to keep a close eye on me. After five years, my scans schedule will slowly get further apart. It’s been a grueling few years to the start of my life, but I live one day at a time, thankful for being in my own bed and with my family each day. And while I won’t remember the physical treatment I endured as a baby; I will always be a part of the cancer world and know that it has shaped me into the little warrior I have become and will always advocate for childhood cancer awareness!
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