Zach Hofen is ten years old. Melinda and I first met Zach three years ago when we traveled to Kansas City, Kansas to participate in Braden’s Run, a fundraiser for Braden’s Hope Childhood Cancer Foundation. Braden is Zach’s younger brother. Braden was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma in December of 2007, the exact same month Melinda was diagnosed with cancer. Unlike Melinda, Braden’s fight against cancer continues to this day.
From Braden’s Caringbridge site:
“Braden was admitted to Children’s Mercy on Friday, December 28, 2007 after a visit to the ER for abdominal pain. A chest x-ray revealed a large white shadow across most of the right side of his chest and extending partially across the left side. A CT scan determined that it was a solid mass, which doctors suspect is a Neuroblastoma, a rare tumor found in infancy and early childhood.”
Braden has endured unimaginable pain and suffering, yet he continues to be an amazingly bright- spirited boy. Without any doubt, Braden’s family has been an enormous factor in his ability to stay positive and stay alive. His parents, Deliece and Brian, are more educated about Braden’s illness than many doctors will ever be. The Hofens have struggled through piles and piles of “bad stuff,” yet, incredibly, this is a family who gives other families hope. Deliece posts beautifully written pieces of her heart about Braden’s illness on Caringbridge and also in her blog, No! This is SERIOUSLY My Life! Amid all the chaos of treatment, they made time to found Braden’s Hope for Childhood Cancer, to be sure they would make a difference in the lives of many other children.
And this brings us to our hero, Zach. We don’t often think of the effects or the challenges of siblings of those battling childhood cancer. Most of their parents’ time and attention is gobbled up by caregiving. The household has illness living there; there are no “normal” days, yet they are still “normal.” They have constant terror from witnessing their brother or sister suffer and constant fear that death will take them away. In the case of this courageous sibling, Zach has made a hero’s choice and he has completed a hero’s deed. Zach is a bone marrow donor, and his recipient is his brother, Braden. Not only has Zach supported his brother and family with his wit and exuberant personality through the past difficult years, but he has given LIFE to Braden. Deliece says, “Zach is hilarious and has many “Zachisms”. He keeps us laughing every day! “
Zach and his Dad, Brian, return to their home from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in two days, on Friday, April 4. Family friends are planning a Hero’s Welcome for Zach! If you live anywhere near Olathe, Kansas, or if you are able to get there somehow, please, please give Zach the warmest, most sincere and grateful welcome home there could ever be!
Details are in these links!