“As a parent, there is nothing better than seeing your child smile and truly be happy. The trip to Disney World Florida was life changing.” Marcus’s mom, Jenny.
Marcus’s dream of going to Disney World came after a difficult journey of treatment for medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer. He was diagnosed on May 15th of 2005 at just six years old. “We were shocked, afraid, angry and confused…all at the same time,” said Jenny. Daily headaches lead to surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor, followed by six weeks of radiation, 35 days in the hospital, and a year of chemotherapy.
Marcus’s story doesn’t end there. Removing the tumor left him with partial paralysis on his right side and, learning to walk again, he did so like a champ. Then, after being in remission for nine months, a second tumor was found in the front of his brain which required another surgery, followed by chemo. On August 9th, a follow-up MRI showed the first tumor, which had been removed earlier that year, was growing back as well as another tumour. Marcus had to complete another 6 weeks of radiation.
“Our lives changed drastically. My son had to be home schooled for the entire 2nd grade. He had physical and occupational therapy on a weekly basis, hospital stays for chemo treatment and various weekly doctor’s appointments,” his mom told us. The hardest thing for Marcus has been dealing with his facial paralysis, losing his hair and trying to keep up with the other kids in school. Though, as we already know, Marcus is a fighter. He has come a long way and is now able to run, jump and play with the other kids at school. He continues to attend speech and physical therapy twice a week and every day he is getting stronger!
The family first learned of Make-A-Wish through Marcus’s oncologist. With the focus solely on his treatment and recovery, it wasn’t until October 2017 when Marcus’s social worker asked him if there was somewhere Marcus would like to go or something he would like to do. Without hesitation Marcus responded “Disney World!” He was particularly looking forward to seeing Mickey Mouse, Bumble Bee and Optimus Prime from Transformers.
The day Marcus had been looking forward to finally came, and he and his parents boarded their plane to Florida where they would stay at Give Kids The World and visit all of the theme parks. They had never been on a family vacation so this trip was extra special. His Mom said, “It gave us the opportunity to forget about the diagnosis and enjoy life. Marcus was able to finally just be a regular kid. Not a kid fighting cancer.”
There were so many firsts for Marcus; his first vacation, his first airplane ride, and his first time on a roller-coaster. His favorite rides were the Banchee Avatar and the Spider Man at Universal Studios.
“Everyone we met along the way was awesome! Everyone was so nice and always willing to help. They made us feel like family. It was one of the best times in our lives. We will all cherish those memories forever,” his mom told us.
In March 2017, Marcus had a follow-up MRI. The MRI was clear and as of today he is cancer free!
When a wish is granted, a child replaces fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope. Marcus’s journey is a demonstration of these qualities and he is an inspiration to us all.