It would be hard enough to learn one of your children has cancer, but can you imagine it happening all over again, just 11 months later? Dual diagnoses are almost too unbearable to imagine, and yet, this is exactly what the Michigan-based Ricker family is facing.
Both Ricker teenagers, Brison and Preston, are battling cancer, but as their mom Kim Ricker told Parents.com via email, "Our family is remaining Rickerstrong!" She says their belief in God and the power of prayer has helped them to remain hopeful and determined in their fight. Ricker adds, "The support that we have received from family, friends, our community, surrounding communities, and complete strangers has been overwhelming!"
With all that support behind them, incredibly, Brison has already beaten the odds. As Ricker recounts, "The doctors told us seven months ago that Brison did not have much time left, to go home, call hospice, and enjoy what little time we had. To us that meant giving up and that is not something we were willing to do. We prayed about it and we were led to seek unconventional treatment in Texas at the Burzynski Clinic. Six weeks after starting that treatment his tumor was a third of the size it was when we went there. His symptoms are continuing to improve and the tumor is showing continued resolution. We have been blessed with seven months more than expected and are believing that this treatment will continue to work until his tumor is gone!"
But just as the Rickers were celebrating Brison's improved health, they were unthinkably hit with more bad news: this time about their younger son, Preston. Two days before Christmas, Ricker said they found out that Preston had thyroid cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes. She adds, "It felt unreal. Could this seriously be happening?!"
But, as his mom explains, "Preston took this news much better than the rest of our family but he has had an incredible role model for the last year, and when we told him, he said with confidence, 'It will be ok, I can beat this!'"
Having one another to lean on has given these brothers strength to face of their health challenges head on. "Going through everything they have the last year has brought them very close and they are now the best of friends and support each other," Ricker told us.
The family continues to search for answers as to why both sons got cancer. In addition to seeking genetic counseling, Ricker said, "We have already had our water tested, air in our home, and tested for radon and that all came back good. At this time we do not know if this is coincidence or there is another cause; the genetic testing takes several weeks to get answers."
In addition to the expense of testing, medical treatment is a huge financial burden for this family. "Brison's treatment has already cost us over $150,000 and continues to cost us $17,000 a month," Ricker explains, adding that they can expect this monthly cost to continue to accrue for at least the next nine months.
While the family is beyond grateful for the donations they have received so far, they can still use more support. If you would like to help, please visit the Rickerstrong GoFundMe page.
Ricker hopes that people will take one important thing away from their story: "You have to be your own advocate for your child. Doctors are human and make mistakes, make wrong decisions, and sometimes just don't have the knowledge or ability to help. This does not mean that someone else will not. Do your research, and go with your gut."
Above all, she tells other parents dealing with their kids' illnesses not to give up.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of coffee.