“I still remember the day my son was born. I fell in love instantly. I never knew how much I wanted to be a dad. Holding my boy for the first time was terrifying and emotional but it left my heart full.
In July 2018, three days before his first birthday, my son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. It’s a rare form of cancer that affects children. It was already stage 4. My world was spinning; we couldn’t understand why this was happening to our happy baby boy.
We spent most of the next 6 months at the Children’s Hospital. Between scans, surgeries, chemotherapy, and infections because of his compromised immune system, there were only a handful of nights we spent at home as a family. Still, his spirit energized us and encouraged us to press onward.
Two weeks before Christmas we got some great news, treatment was working! The tumors had shrunk by 98% and after they removed the mass in his belly we got to spend Christmas at home.
But the good news didn’t last.
On the evening of December 27th, we rushed to the hospital; our boy was having a seizure. Scans showed that the cancer had recurred in his brain and spine. We spent the next week in ICU while our baby boy received care around the clock.
We didn’t know if he was going to make it, and I’m eternally grateful for the doctors who came in to perform emergency brain surgery at 9:00pm. Without a doubt, they saved his life that night.
Over the next few months our little guy lost the ability to walk, use his hands to feed himself, and balance himself sitting up. We helplessly watched it all slip away as he endured aggressive radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
Through it all, he maintained such a high spirit and demeanor. He gave everyone strength, this sick little boy. He had a smile that would light up the room.
Our son was an inspiration to everyone who met him.
On June 21st, three weeks before his second birthday, he took his last breath as I cradled him in my arms.
Although my son isn’t here anymore, he taught me what it was to be a dad. The love and the joy and the pride, no matter the pain.
Our second child is due in October, this time a baby girl. I look forward to teaching my daughter about her big brother, Jake.”
– Chad Bottolfs
Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]