Cancer is always difficult. Treatment is grueling, and patients often stay in the hospital for months or even years—even for people who only have cancer in one part of their body. But for people whose cancer has spread to multiple body parts, the prognosis is usually never good. Fortunately however, for 2-year-old Gideon Purchase, this wasn’t the case.
When Gideon was just 6 months old, his parents Katie and Gary noticed he had developed some odd symptoms. He didn’t have much of an appetite, slept poorly, and fussed rather frequently.
They assumed that these were all signs of teething—until they discovered a strange yellow bruise over his eye. The next day, the bruise covered both eyes, and he had a lump on his forehead. His parents took him to the doctor as soon as possible.
It was then that the Purchase family received the awful news: Gideon had stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma. According to the American Cancer Society, this condition has less than a 50% five-year survival rate.
“His entire face and skull was full of cancer, and all of his bones were full of cancer,” his St. Jude doctor, Sara Federico, told TODAY. “He had a large tumor that was present in the middle of his body.”
“It [was] literally as bad as it gets,” Katie added.
It's been a long time since this boy has gotten a church nap. We were blessed to be able to worship together in a…
But the Purchases were willing to do whatever it took to treat him. So they agreed to enter a clinical trial to give Gideon the best possible shot at life. This new treatment included chemotherapy along with an antibody. This had major positive results, and Gideon’s condition improved rapidly.
Within the first six weeks, the tumors in Gideon’s face, arms, and legs all disappeared. The remaining cancer cells were then killed off by a combination of radiation and a bone marrow transplant.
Gideon was also given Accutane, a drug more generally used for acne. According to an update on the family’s GoFundMe page, “It is shown to suppress the growth of fast-growing cancer cells,” Gary wrote. “The goal of this last (God willing) phase of treatment is to make sure to kill off any residual disease that may still be left in his body to prevent relapse.”
After 15 months of treatment, the percentage of cancer within Gideon’s body had dropped down to zero. The little boy could finally go home.
“You yearn for the day when you’re not toting around an entire IV tree behind your kid,” Gary told TODAY. “And then it happens, and you just kind of sit there like, ‘Wow. We made it.'”
Now Gideon is as happy and energetic as any 2-year-old. According to their Facebook page, he still has some issues eating solid food, but the Purchases are glad to have their playful little boy back.
“It makes you appreciate the little things,” Gary told TODAY. “Suddenly, life’s problems just don’t seem like a big deal anymore.”