Thank You From a Survivor!
As we gear up for our September 7, star-studded telecast, we wanted to share a touching e-mail we received from out of the blue. Nancy Kapsalis’s little boy Niso had – and survived –a type of kidney cancer. Niso’s story and Nancy’s letter serve as a powerful reminder of why we’re all here, and what can be accomplished for patients through research Stand Up To Cancer supports.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
From: Nancy Kapsalis
Subject: Stand Up To Cancer Event Thank You from a Survivor!
Dear SU2C Performers and Supporters,
I know this is long, but please bear with me and read to the end of this letter. I am sending this to you in hopes that you can let those involved in performing at the Stand Up To Cancer televised fundraiser event know how very much their efforts are appreciated. I just wanted to take a moment to say “thank you” and to let you see the faces of the people you are fighting to help. My name is Nancy Kapsalis. My husband, Dan, and I are parents of 6 wonderful children. Our son, Niso, is a cancer survivor. Our story is unique unto us, and yet exactly like all the other families. One day our world changed when we found out our child had a life threatening illness.
Our son, Niso, was diagnosed with Nephroblastoma, commonly know as Wilms Tumor. Within hours of what was to be a routine hernia operation, we were told our child had cancer. We spent the next 10 days in the hospital, which included a 3-day stay in intensive care, a surgery to remove the tumor, removal of his kidney, placement of a port and the beginning of his chemotherapy treatment. If you have ever consoled your child over a scraped knee or a bad dream, you know what it feels like to feel your child’s pain. You know the feeling of desperation when you can’t take away the pain or there are no words for the fear they feel. You know that all you can really do is be there and hold them and let them know that when all around them seems uncertain, your love for them is ever present. When your child is sick, you feel like the whole world should stop. But it doesn’t. Bills still need to be paid, work still needs to be done, groceries still need to be bought, homework still needs to be completed. It becomes a delicate balance act between two worlds. You quickly enter a world where all that matters is your sick child and keeping your family as stable as possible.
You don’t know the word brave until you see a child thrown into an adult world the way these children have been. The diseases these children suffer from become a lifelong foe. The cancer may or may not go away, but the scars are a constant reminder of the battles they have fought and will continue to fight for the rest of their lives. This became so apparent last June when we once again found ourselves back in the hospital. For 15 days Niso once again endured a thing that would make most adults shudder in fear. NG Tubes, needles, pic lines, and he didn’t flinch. He was stoic and brave beyond his years. But, here is the part that many forget, he wasn’t the only one! Standing in the wings, were 5 other brave children whose lives got turned upside down as well. When a 7 year old would rather spend 15 days and nights in the middle of summer in a stark hospital room, instead of outside playing with her friends because the unknown of what is happening to her big brother is overwhelming and the only place that seems safe is in her mom’s arms, when Mom and Dad spend more time at the hospital and less time putting the other children to bed at night and we are not home at night to answer the questions and ease the fear and confusion they feel, when the randomness and severity of their brother’s illness rocks the core of their stability, you begin to realize how this disease does not just effect one person. It is a journey the entire family embarks on.
Although we will continue to deal with long term effects from chemo, thanks to research, Niso is now a healthy and joyful 11 year old! I wish my child never had to suffer or endure what he did, but I am grateful for the experiences that have come out of this. Those days, though exhausting and frightening, were also some of the best days our family has ever experienced. It has made my children grow up with grateful hearts. It is not happiness that makes us grateful but gratefulness that makes us happy. And with that thought, we have much to be happy about. We feel privileged that God gave us the opportunity to see the world in a much different way. Many people will never know how strong they really how, how deep their faith really is or how much kindness and generosity surround them on a daily basis. Our situation gave us that unique and beautiful perspective on life that is stronger and more powerful than any cancer or disease on earth. We are grateful for the amazing doctors and nurses that took care of our son and saved his life. We are grateful for the friends and family that stepped up in ways we could never imagine, and I just wanted you to know that we are grateful that people like you use your God-given gifts to help others and be the voice for all those that are battling this disease.