Hello, my name is Robby Hughes and September 4th was my 13th birthday. I am in the seventh grade, my favorite subject is Science and I am a blue belt in karate. Some of my favorite things are chocolate milk shakes, playing Wii, watching Wipeout and my iTouch. I like middle school and I get good grades, but I HATE homework. I guess you could say I am a normal, healthy seventh grader. And if it wasn’t for the 12 inch scar running across my abdomen, you would never know that I had been sick when I was 2. I don’t really remember all that I went through back then, but my parents remember, (especially my mom). So I’m going to let her tell you all about it.
It was the summer of 2002. Robby was 2 years old and meeting all the normal milestones for a child his age. He was happy and seemingly healthy with no indication that there was anything wrong with his little body.
My good friend (and college roommate) and her daughter were visiting and we had plans to see everything we could while they were here. On the evening of June 11, after a full day at the zoo, Robby and I were going through our usual bedtime routine and were lying in bed reading. As I put my arm around him I noticed that the right side of his abdomen was protruding a little and was hard as a rock. I knew I needed to call the doctor, but I wrestled with the urgency of it. After all, we had guests. Surely it could wait a day or so.
We decided to go have fun in the morning and call for an afternoon sick appointment with our pediatrician. But that morning Robby was very moody and uncooperative. He didn’t want to go out; he wanted to “take a nap”. REALLY, a nap instead of an amusement park? Red flag! We headed off to the doctors office.
Once examined, we were immediately sent to Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital in Atlanta for an abdominal ultrasound. What seemed like moments later, we had a diagnosis of kidney cancer, a Wilms’ tumor the size of a grapefruit. We were admitted to a room on the AFLAC Cancer floor and were now in our new home for the next 8 days.
Two days later, he had surgery to remove the tumor and his right kidney. Our journey as a family with childhood cancer commenced. He received weekly chemo treatments for 10 weeks straight and then received them every 3 weeks for 6 months. His official diagnosis was stage 3 Wilms’ tumor which also meant 6 days of radiation.
The first couple months were extremely stressful. Everything was new, uncharted territory for us. Not knowing how he would react to the treatment; whether he would have a good day or bad day. We also had to learn his body language, because a child this young can’t always communicate how he feels or what he needs. Our community rallied around us. Neighbors, friends, church members and even strangers supported us with meals, help and prayer. We could not have gotten through this without all of them. We sincerely felt he love of our Lord through the support of our community.
On Dec. 5, 2002, Robby received his last chemo treatment. It was a wonderful celebration with his doctors and nurses. What a terrific feeling it was to complete that chapter in our lives and be able to move on. In January 2003, we celebrated his being “off-therapy” with a trip to Disney World with the friends who had been here visiting the day he was diagnosed. It was such a wonderful way to celebrate Robby’s renewed health! And it is a cherished memory.
We love Robby so much! We are infinitely blessed to have our son still with us. He is a SURVIVOR! He is a happy, healthy, loving boy, and we are so thankful for all who treated him, cared for him, prayed for him, and simply loved him (and us) in our time of need. We want to celebrate by giving back to CURE Childhood Cancer.
In 2012-2013, CURE Childhood Cancer is investing $1.7 million for research to find cures for childhood cancers. The goal of CURE’s Annual Campaign is to raise $600,000 by June 30, 2013. Please click here to make a contribution.