On Nov. 15, the Charlotte MileStones Walk at Freedom Park in Charlotte will be held to support research conducted by the Children's Oncology Group.
Most of us have been touched by cancer in some way. None of us understands what that means better than Jonathan and Crystal Hopkins of Rock Hill. Their son, Alex, was diagnosed with Wilms' tumor just before his first birthday. Doctors removed one kidney, and Alex underwent chemotherapy for tumors on his other kidney for 18 months before going into remission.
Alex fought the cancer off and on for seven years.
“In April this year, Alex had a scan that was clear,” Crystal Hopkins says. “Six weeks later he was sick. It just got worse and worse. I took him in to the doctor … The cancer had spread everywhere.” Alex died June 12. He would have been in third grade this fall.
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Crystal Hopkins says family and friends made the fight easier.
“Our neighbors held a fundraiser when Alex relapsed in 2007, to help with medical bills,” she says. “It was a yard sale, but they had a dunking booth and games, so it was like a street party.”
Students and parents at Rosewood Elementary in Rock Hill are holding a fundraiser, Facts for Alex. Sponsors make a donation for each fact about pediatric cancer that the students collect.
Crystal Hopkins's mother and mother-in-law made sure she never took Alex to the doctor's office alone. One would go with Crystal while the other kept Alex's sister, Zoe, now 5.
“That meant so much to me, never having to be alone,” Crystal says.
An anonymous donor gave the family a wonderful gift: A private jet flight to Disney World for two days and one night in the Contemporary hotel. All food and tickets were included, along with a private Disney guide who took the family in the “back door” of any ride or event Alex wanted to see.
The same donor replaced the family's failing refrigerator while they were gone, provided Outback Steakhouse, Wal-Mart and Target gift cards, and arranged for a private tour of the Panthers local training field and for Alex to meet team members.
“That is our biggest memory,” Crystal Hopkins says. “It was in his last weeks, definitely a blessing.”