OCALA- In Ocala, Ayden Henke and his mother Tiffany are facing the fight of their lives. I was able to follow them around at home and in the hospital so that i could share this journey of "Aiding Ayden" where I found out that love and hope are bigger than cancer.
This is little Ayden. He is a three-year-old boy living in Ocala with his mother. He loves to dance, he loves to play and like any other toddler he wants things his way. But on January 7th, 2013 things changed for both Ayden and his mom.
"He had another seizure on the floor, he lay on the floor and he completely urinated his pants. he was just staring off into space and shaking and just incoherent and I knew at that time there was something totally wrong," said Ayden's mother Tiffany Henke.
Little Ayden was diagnosed with a brain tumor Pilocytic Astrocytoma ultimately causing him to lose his sight. Ayden's physician, Dr. John Fort says he will probably never get his vision back. Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children 1 to 14 years of age in the United States, according to the National Institute of Cancer.
"But if it eventually gets where it is uncontrollable, if it pushes the brain out through the bottom of his skull then theoretically it can be a fatal outcome," said physician John Fort.
However Ayden's mom, Henke isn't giving up. At Shands Hospital is where Ayden gets chemotherapy treatments. The process is a lengthy one. Each session takes about 5 to 6 hours. "It's helped me open my eyes so much bigger to things that I never knew, I never knew that there were things like this," said Henke.
While Ayden loves going to school, as long as he is doing chemo he can't go back to Pre-K. Henke said, "He goes out and tries to be with other kids and he can't because he can't see them, he can't play with them. The other kids are scared of him because they don't know what it's like for him."
Ayden has a special teacher, Sue Grossman with the Marion County Public Schools come home to teach him Braille and how to get by with a cane. "He loves using his cane and chasing after people and trying to find the bushes and trying to find the drop-offs on the driveway and things like that," said Sue Grossman.
Grossman says Ayden's strong will and his caring family are helping him get better each day. "Now I purposely throw the ball a little out of his range and teach him to put his head down and actually look on the ground and find that sound and find the ball and pick it up and he has been doing that," said Grossman.
Hospital scares and medical bills are all part of the struggle. "You don't know how you're going to live, you don't know you're going to pay your bills, you don't know you're going to be able to do anything and when the community just comes together and helps you, it's just amazing."
While many take being normal for granted that's all she wants for Ayden, Henke said. "These kids go through so much up here, in this floor and they're all so strong and nobody knows what they go through until they come up here, and it's just very hard the moms and the things that they go through for their children for them to be strong and you have to be strong right along with them and sometimes you can't," she added.
Armed with love and hope, the Henkes are aiding Ayden by fighting cancer one day at a time. If you would like to donate to help aid Ayden, check out his Paypal account here.
You can also gollow Ayden's progress through Facebook.
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