Isaac’s parents noticed a significant head tilt when he was only 18 months old, which showed no signs of improvement despite several sessions of physical therapy. His doctors eventually ordered an MRI and further testing that lead to a devastating diagnosis of a Pilocytic Astrocytoma brain tumor located on his brain stem and spinal cord.
“The combination of the type and placement made it unique and tricky to operate,” Isaac’s mom, Allison, explains. “The tumor needed to be removed as much as safely possible. We searched high and low before deciding to travel to Boston Children’s Hospital to meet with a neurosurgeon who had operated on kids similar to Isaac. It was there that Isaac had an eight hour brain surgery and spent a night in the ICU as well as a few days in the hospital.”
Three days post-surgery, Isaac and his family met with a physical therapist who explained it often takes kids months to relearn to walk after the surgery that Isaac had undergone. It was later that day that Isaac surprised everyone by starting to walk and even began running.
After returning to Iowa, Isaac underwent another surgery to place a port in his chest that would aid in any future infusions he would have. Following his surgery, Isaac began weekly chemotherapy sessions at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. Isaac’s initial chemotherapy plan consisted of fifty weekly treatments but ran into complications when his white blood cell counts were too low for his weekly session.
Isaac’s chemotherapy plan suddenly became a much longer journey than originally anticipated. When finally reaching Week 18 of his chemo regimen, Isaac started having an allergic reaction to his medicine. Following the scary incident, Isaac was admitted overnight for observation and due to his allergic reaction, would need to start a new chemotherapy regimen and start back at Week 1.
It was in 2016, at the age of three, that Isaac had finally finished his very last chemotherapy session the day before Thanksgiving. It had been 596 days since he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
It was in 2016, at the age of three, that Isaac had finally finished his very last chemotherapy session the day before Thanksgiving. “It had been 596 days since he was diagnosed with a brain tumor,” Allison shares. “[During] that time, he had 116 blood tests, 77 port accesses, 68 chemo treatments, 13 overnight stays in the hospital, 9 shots given at home by Mom and Dad, 2 surgeries, 7 MRI’s, 7 fevers that required going to the hospital and 2 ER visits. Isaac is a sweet and outgoing little boy full of energy who loves people. Isaac has made an incredible journey since his diagnosis in 2015 and has become stronger and more resilient.”
Isaac’s family first learned of his eligibility for a wish after his diagnosis in 2015. During one of his first chemo infusions, a staff member of the hospital approached the family and started to talk to them about Make-A-Wish®. Isaac’s mother was shocked at first, but felt excited for her son to have such an amazing opportunity to make a dream come true.
Isaac’s parents recognized the extensive medical journey Isaac had endured and knew it was time for him to have some much-needed fun. “We met with his wish granters in our home so they could meet Isaac and ask him questions,” Allison remembers. “It was pretty clear that one of Isaac’s favorite things in the world were superheroes, and we felt he would absolutely love to meet his favorite superhero, Captain America!”
As his family prepared for Walt Disney World® Resort and Universal Studios, Isaac’s parents had a wish of their own: for Isaac to experience his wish as a normal and healthy little boy. His parents wanted to wait to go until he was finished with his chemo treatments and surgeries to celebrate overcoming the hardest fight of his life.
The whole experience made us feel so incredibly cared for.
“The whole experience made us feel so incredibly cared for. We were so thankful to be gifted this once-in-a-lifetime experience… for us, it was such a celebratory moment,” Allison remembers. “Getting to see Isaac meet Captain America, his favorite superhero of all time, was such an amazing moment for us as parents. Isaac still talks about the time he raced Captain America and ‘won’! It was life-changing. We are so thankful for anyone who has helped support Make-A-Wish to make Isaac’s wish come true!”
A wish is more than a nice thing or a moment in time. Supporting Make-A-Wish Iowa provides a life-changing experience to children with critical illnesses. Isaac’s family encourages others to take the opportunity to support and show care to the other “little fighters” in Iowa by finding ways to become involved with Make-A-Wish Iowa.