We are sharing this info with our readers to learn about a young man and his family’s journey through cancer. Adam passed away on Thursday November 27, 2014. His memorial service was on Tuesday December 2nd.
“I write this letter in hopes to get some attention on a very special person in my life. A person who has never asked for much and has spent most of his 15 years in and out of a hospital with cancer.
CANCER – ROUND ONE
Adam Cripps, my beloved nephew, is an inspiration to most who meet him. His story begins August 20 1998 when my sister gave birth to him. His first year was just like any other infants, growing and achieving the typical milestones. He was happy and such a good baby. Just after his first birthday, this sweet little angel was about to begin a journey that would change his life indefinitely. Imagine watching your 1 year old struggle to have to pee, grabbing at it and crying. Doctors in Drayton Valley had no idea what was wrong, so after a month of watching Adam suffer, he was brought in to the Stollery and they finally got the answers they were looking for but were definitely not expecting.
Rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue tumour had attacked his bladder and prostate area. Chemotherapy treatments started and my young sister, only 20 at the time, was about to watch her little 1 year old go through a hellish battle. They removed his prostate and bladder and after a few rounds of chemotherapy, the cancer was gone! It was all over….so we thought!
CANCER – ROUND TWO
A few short months later, the cancer returns with a vengeance! The doctors gave this mom little hope for her child’s future, giving him only a 10% survival rate and a choice that no parent should have to make…fight til the end with aggressive treatment or let him go. She chose to give Adam some hope. He then goes to Calgary and spends months in the hospital there getting a stem cell transplant. Now 2 years old and fighting for his life. This boy can move mountains with his strength and he proved it at that little, innocent age and won! Short a bladder and a prostate but he was cancer free!
June of 2007, Adam was 7. He noticed a lump on his leg and his mom takes him in for an irregular check up as a precaution. Good thing she did, Osteosarcoma has arrived in his leg. Luckily, it was caught in time and removed only months after diagnosis. It was Friday, October 13. I guess that’s not such an unlucky date because Adams surgery went amazing.
He went through a crazy surgery, one of which is becoming quite popular for the removal of that area of the leg. They removed the thigh, where the cancer was, and flipped his leg so his knee would act as his hip and his heel would act like his knee. It was amazing to watch his toes move only minutes after returning to his room! A few months and Adam is having his “end of treatment” party and is celebrating the start of yet another remission. We all got cake and the nurses all came in to the room and sang a song to Adam. It was a victory for us.
CANCER – ROUND FOUR
Cancer free since April 2007 and there was never a moment that his family didn’t think that it wasn’t over for our sweet Adam. Late last June, a very sad but predictable day had come. Adam was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal colon cancer. We knew it wasn’t good and after meeting with the doctors and hearing the extent of the disease, in his lungs, liver, and bones, we knew the outcome would be devastating. They told us that without treatment, Adam would have 3-6 months and with a full blast of treatment, he would have 10-12 months.
Adam may have surprised the doctors the first time but we knew this was the end. Imagine asking your almost 15 year old child if he wanted to extend his life by a few months and get some chemotherapy…my sister had to. Imagine asking him if he would like to have a say in his funeral arrangements…another horrible conversation that my sister had with Adam. This young man now faced all of our worst fears, death. He tried chemotherapy, after 2 months they found it didn’t work so they stopped. They prescribed him morphine and that helps when he gets sore. Two months ago he started getting headaches.
There was no doubt in our minds that it had spread to the brain. We were right. The ct shows 2 spots in his brain. As a quality of life treatment, he then endured 5 days of radiation directly on the brain. He texted me just after the first radiation treatment. His words were, “just finished getting my brain fried!”. I didn’t hear from him the rest of the night because he was in so much pain that he almost canceled the rest of the weeks treatments. He’s had a few trips to the er and his latest trip on Monday night is showing us that the cancer in his lungs and liver has grown and is now pushing on his diaphragm making it hurt to breathe.
Can you believe that with everything this young man has been through and survived through, he has only recently been noticeably depressed. Adam is by far, the strongest, bravest, and most courageous person I have ever had the privilege of knowing. And I’m not alone when I say that! Throughout his entire journey, his family has had an army of support that has helped them get through this.
With probably only weeks left of his short life, I only hope that I can somehow share his story to enough people to hopefully show them what we already know. Adam is an amazing young man and his life will be forever missed but he will live on in all of us and I can only hope that one day I’m as strong as he is.
We have had many events in Adams honour over the years and I wanted to share the most recent with you. June 12, 2014 is John D. Bracco’s 5km run this year. I had made a call to the school, Adams junior high, and informed them of the latest of Adams journey. As you can imagine, financial life on a family with a child going through this kind of ordeal can’t be easy. There has been a lot of struggles lately and I was hoping that the school would want to help in some way. They had a brilliant idea of turning their 5km run in to “Adams run” and incorporating a mini carnival for the kids and a BBQ, food generously supplied by Sobeys.
They offered to let me use the parking lot for a bottle drop off, in hopes that I could raise money for Adams family. His family needs our help to get them through the final stages of Adams journey. I am hoping that with this letter, you could somehow find a way to help me help them. Even if it’s only to say a prayer for Adam or to share his story with someone you know or even just to send him a funny card in the mail to put a smile on his face, we need all of the support we can get right now.
Not knowing when this disease will win, I can’t guarantee that Adam will even be able to attend the schools 5km run in honour of their fellow student. I am hoping, though, that we can show him the support that is all around him by getting his story on the news and in the media. I may be biased, but I think he deserves that and so much more! He has gone through what most people will never even have to imagine and so has his family.
I have always been honoured to call Adam my nephew and I can only hope that his memory lives on even after the cancer wins. He is such an amazing person and I hope that we can show him that before he goes. I started “Adams army” on Facebook to help support him through all of this. We have 734 members and their strength and prayers have helped tremendously. I hope we can get that number to grow because I believe every one of them has helped Adam get further than the doctors believed he would, yet again.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read Adams story. It is very vague, in my opinion, because Adam has lived one hell of a life in only 15 short years. Please keep Adam in your hearts and if there’s anything that you can do to help me achieve some of my dreams for Adam, please feel free to contact me anytime. Even if you only want to check in and see how he’s doing, I’d be happy to share that with you.
The proudest Auntie ever,
To see the kind of influence Adam had, read the tributes to Adam on “Adam’s Army” Facebook page here.