In the winter of 2011, Declan experienced repeated headaches and vomiting. On Valentine's Day 2011, after multiple scans, numerous tests, and his first brain surgery, Declan was diagnosed with Primary CNS (Central Nervous System) Rhabdomyosarcoma. CANCER. Our world stopped for only a moment. Long enough to take a deep breath, ask questions, get multiple 'second' opinions, and then work together with Declan and his care givers at AI duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, to plan out how we could best help Declan fight his disease.
Pediatric Cancer isn't pretty. And the day-to-day routine of living with pediatric cancer would cripple most adults. Three brain surgeries, three port replacement surgeries, and months spent living in the hospital away from his two younger brothers was just part of Declan's challenge. He also tolerated more than 30 weeks of a very aggressive chemotherapy treatment plan, all while smiling, laughing, playing, and spreading his infectious joy all around him. When talking about how even heroes have bad days, Declan's response was "not me!" Even when, eleven months after the initial diagnosis, the cancer was found to have passed into his brain, Declan's main concern was that we forgot to sign him up for soccer class (which we did that afternoon!). Declan continued to fight with a passion far greater than we could have ever imagined.
Declan fought hard for -- and earned -- his angel wings on February 27, 2012. His physical presence is missed every single day. It is amazing how much a parent can learn from their child about grace and perseverance, and how much Declan's infectious positive attitude has changed the lives of so many. Through his courage, contagious smile, uplifting personality, and his amazing outlook on life, Declan inspired, and continues to inspire, those who knew him and those who simply knew of him.
In honor of Declan’s Goodness, and to continue his fight for other children, we have teamed up with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to create the Declan Roberts Full of Goodness Fund for Rhabdomyosarcoma Research.