30 DAYS/30 STORIES® 2021
In September of 2015, 6 year-old Dominic was diagnosed with Medullablastoma, a form of brain cancer. He had surgery to remove the tumor, and complications left him unable to eat, speak or walk. He spent 3 months inpatient at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. During that time, he endured 6 weeks of daily brain and spine proton radiation and intensive rehabilitation. After that, he received 7 months of chemotherapy. He is now 12 and has remained NED (no evidence of disease) since finishing treatment.
We are sharing Dom’s story from his point of view. We had family and friends come up with interview questions about his experience. Here is what he had to say about it....
What was it like for you to be in the hospital? Dom: “It was comfortable because I had a bed, but it was scary because I wasn’t at home. I missed my dog, my brother and my room.”
What are some of your best memories from that time? Dom: “Coming home from the hospital. I felt happy to see my home, my family and my friends.”
Is there a doctor or nurse you remember and why? Dom: “Nurse Kelly, because she made me laugh. Nurse Terry because he did funny voices. Dr. Joe because he let me give myself my anesthesia. Dr. Belasco because she kept me alive.”
What things helped you feel more comfortable in the hospital? Dom: “My mom and dad. Food, because once my feeding tube came out, I could order whatever I wanted.”
You were always so brave. Were there ever times that you felt afraid?
Dom: “Not really, but I did feel afraid before both of my facial surgeries.”
What helped you feel so brave? Dom: “Holding my breath. My dad is a fireman, and he runs into burning buildings so that helped me to be brave.”
How do you feel about what happened to you? Dom: “I’m not mad about it. Now I can do weird things like wiggle one ear and raise only one eyebrow.”
People say you are their hero, who is YOUR hero? Dom: “Jason Aldean, because I listened to his songs during my therapy and treatments.”
Do you FEEL like a hero?
Dom: “Yes, because I survived.”
How do you feel when people say you are an inspiration to them? Dom: “Thankful and good because they look up to me, and if my situation helps them stay strong in their situation then that is good.”
How do you feel before each follow-up MRI? Dom: “I don’t feel afraid, it’s just something I have to do.”
What is Dom’s Wolfpack and how did it help you? Dom: “I love wolves and I liked that my wolf pack had many people in it praying for me. Wolves are warriors and they traveled with Odin, and I think they are strong animals.”
What do you want to be when you grow up? Dom: “Archaeologist, Paleontologist or a Zookeeper”
What do you think new doctors or nurses should know about kids with cancer?
Dom: “Be funny, it cheers kids up. It made me feel relaxed and happy.”
Do you have any advice for other kids going through cancer? Dom: “Try not to be scared, all of this is going to help you. Stay calm.”
Why is PCFLV special to you? Dom: “They send me a gift card for my birthday. I love making mosaics with them!”
Other than when we adults are talking about it, do you ever think about cancer?
Dom: “I think about the cure and when and where it will be found.”
What do you see when you look in the mirror?
Dom:” A survivor.”
We want to send our love and prayers to everyone within the PCFLV family. NO ONE FIGHTS ALONE. There is no truer statement than when you become enveloped with love and support from the foundation, its leading ladies, and all the children and families we’ve met along the way.
Written by Dominic, his parents, and his friends and family
Please consider donating in Dominic's honor to support PCFLV's mission.
Please also consider helping local kids with cancer by donating blood at Miller-Keystone Blood Center:
Photography by Matthew Cannon