Childhood Cancer Heroes

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Nathan DuBois

  • Age 11
  • Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
  • The Children’s Hospital of Philadephia

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Nathan has a great personality. He is funny and likes to make people laugh, yet he is not the center of attention. Nathan is sweet, loving and very compassionate. He loves Legos and superheroes, especially Captain America! He enjoys playing basketball, swimming, watching YouTube videos, playing video games and listening to his iPod. His favorite place to visit is Disney World. 

Nathan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia two days after his 5th birthday and then one month after his 6th birthday his best friend passed away in a car accident. This little boy has had to endure more than any child should ever have to go through, yet he is still very happy. He has a heart of gold!

In June 2010, Nathan was complaining of his ankle hurting one night. His mother Stephanie thought maybe he hurt his ankle when he jumped down earlier that evening so she decided to take him to the ER. They x-rayed his ankle and said it didn't look like anything, but they wrapped it anyway and would follow up a few days later. His ankle wasn't any better and he was also complaining of his leg hurting. The doctor sent Nathan to an orthopedic. After taking x-rays and not seeing any breaks, they decided to put him in a cast because the family was leaving for vacation the very next day. Nathan, who stopped taking naps at the age 2, was tired all the time. After the cast was removed, the doctor said the x-ray showed some new bone growth so he must have had a hairline fracture. Not even a week later, Nathan was playing outside and tripped. He complained of not being able to get up and would not walk, so they went back to the doctor. He was sent to ortho again and put in a cast, the other leg this time, even though it didn't look like a break in the x-rays. This time, Nathan would not move. He would not try to walk, he cried that it hurt too badly, he stopped eating and he developed a low grade fever. Every day, he got worse. The doctor said he was just sick and the ortho said he just needed time. His parents fought for bloodwork to be done and, sure enough, his numbers were so out of whack he was sent to CHOP. The doctors at CHOP explained that to the uneducated eye, what the ortho saw and believed to be new bone growth was actually the leukemia. 

Nathan was admitted right away and their lives were flipped upside down! Stephanie wasn’t sure how she was going to stay with her 5-year-old and still be with her 3- and 11-year-old sons. During Nathan's stay in the hospital, she would tell him how brave he was and that he was her hero. One day he said, “No I'm not mommy, because I'm broken. Heroes aren't broken!”

Nathan was in the hospital for 9 days. He was doing so well that they let him go home. They went to the CHOP clinic in Voorhees for his chemo and doctor visits. They had a mini drugstore on their counter. Nathan ended up back in the hospital several times throughout his treatment course. The worst parts of his treatments were the needles he had to get at home, the many spinal taps he had to endure, and the steroids he had to take. He still struggles with his eating habits because of those steroids!

Stephanie hopes that Nathan will be able to use this experience to help others. She hopes that he decides on a career path and then pursues it. He is a smart kid with an entire future ahead of him. She hopes he explores what's out there and then finds the love of his life, settles down and is able to have a family.

Nathan is a hero because he is braver than he thinks, stronger than he believes and smarter than he knows! He has conquered lot of battles in his life and never once asked why him, nor did he ever complain about his situation. He embraced his "none hair" as he would say. 

Stephanie wants others who may have recently received a cancer diagnosis to know it's a rough, long road, but with support, you will get through it! It's not easy, but take the time to cherish every moment, the good and the bad!

“Always be yourself, unless you can be a super hero, then always be a super hero!” – Nathan 

Information submitted by Stephanie DuBois, Nathan’s Mother
Updated September 2016

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Childhood Cancer Heroes