When 6-year-old Nixon began complaining about leg pain in January, his parents Janessa and Nick Whatcott didn’t think it was anything serious.
Janessa had a feeling it was nothing more than “growing pains,” and after a few weeks, they decided to take Nixon to the doctor to make sure.
After the doctors took X-rays, Janessa and Nick expected them to return with images of a perfectly healthy leg. But instead, they asked the parents to join them out into the hallway.
The doctor then revealed the X-ray and gave the parents the devastating news. “We went back and he pointed it out and said, ‘We found a tumor in him on his bone,’” Janessa explained.
Nixon had a tumor the size of an egg on his left femur and would need to undergo further testing to determine if it was cancerous.
“I was horrified. That’s every parent’s worst nightmare,” Janessa continued. “I was in total belief that it was growing pains, and that I was being overly worried. It was scary to figure that out and have to accept what that was.”
After visiting another hospital, the family learned that the tumor was indeed cancerous. They also discovered additional tumors in the surrounding area.
Janessa described the shock and pain she and Nick felt when they learned their son had cancer.
“My husband and I lost it,” she said. “We felt that loss that he’d been given this thing and we couldn’t take it away from him. There was nothing we could do for him. We were concerned what the cancer treatments would be. How were we gonna tell him?”
She went on to describe the hurt she felt for Nixon, a boy who’d been enjoying life as any young child should just one day before.
“We were devastated for him. He’s such a happy go-lucky little boy and you’d never even think that he was sick. The day before, he was just running outside with his brothers. Looking at him, he didn’t look sick. It was almost unbelievable. We were just devastated. We couldn’t wrap our heads around it.”
Further tests revealed that the tumors had spread to Nixon’s arm and lungs, and that he would need to begin treatment as soon as possible.
Janessa revealed the months that followed were extremely difficult, with Nixon undergoing 6 rounds of chemotherapy. The family also threw the 6-year-old a head-shaving party to show him how much support he had.
The mom has also said the chemotherapy is helping, although it has put a great amount of stress on the entire family.
“We have talked about how his body has cancer, a bad infection, and how he will get sick before he gets better. But the reality is this is just horrible. It has put stress on our little family and has been hard to be apart. Nixon misses his brothers and they miss him,” she said.
Nixon will soon have rotationplasty surgery to remove the cancerous femur and tumor, and he will get a prosthetic leg.
“Nixon’s been frustrated having to come to the hospital a lot,” Janessa said. “It was hard for him because he wants to have a real leg, he doesn’t want to have a fake leg. This has turned our lives upside down, but [Nick and I] just keep in mind that we only have to do this for a short time and he’ll be healthy.”
And while Nixon and his family still face an incredibly difficult road filled with uncertainty ahead, they are grateful for the continued support they receive.
“Nixon has received a huge outpouring of love and support,” Janessa said. “It has been so good for our family to be distracted from this horrific disease.”
Our hearts go out to Nixon and his family during this difficult time.
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