Kevin was a healthy and active child living at home with his parents, Cara and Walter, as well as his younger sister, Hannah. So when his parents took him to the hospital with knee pain, who would have imagined that the diagnosis would be leukemia? Then Kevin and his family learned that the treatment at Children’s Hospital would start the next day. Their lives changed in an instant.
Naturally, there were side effects and complications due to the treatment. At one point, Kevin lost 30% of his body weight and was too weak to walk. It was hard for him not to play with other kids, attend school or even go out to a movie. However, his preschool teachers and friends sent things home to make him feel included.
Cara remembers first hearing Joe Andruzzi speak at a Mansfield Relay for Life meeting. This was months before Kevin was diagnosed, yet Cara was inspired by Joe’s words. To keep Kevin thinking positively, Cara talked about other famous people that had beaten cancer. Naturally, Joe came to mind again and Cara was introduced to the Joe Andruzzi Foundation through a mother’s club mutual connection.
Three months after Kevin’s diagnosis, Joe came to visit the family. “I’d never guess that Kevin was sick, because he couldn’t stop running around the house,” said Joe. Kevin’s question to Joe was whether or not he had a port during his treatment. Joe even showed Kevin his scar and shared stories of what it was like to beat his cancer.
Joe brought his Super Bowl rings for Kevin to try on. They were so heavy that Joe had to hold up Kevin’s arm! Then a few weeks after the visit, Kevin was watching ESPN and saw a clip of Joe carrying a flag on September 11th. Kevin flew around the house in ecstasy knowing that this super hero had been in his home.
Now 5, Kevin is in the final stage of his treatment, which is less intense and takes less time at the Jimmy Fund clinic. He went back to school and started t-ball. Although his parents worry about his first cold, it’s great to see Kevin returning to his normal life. This summer Kevin will go to preschool camps and then take a trip with his family to the Outer Banks as well as Cape Cod.
“This has been a major group effort,” said Cara Rich. “I’m so thankful for the amazing support from the community, family and friends that continue to give us strength as Kevin battles this horrible disease.”