Our network

Zeeland boy with terminal cancer gets surprise from Santa | News

Title (Max 100 Characters)

Zeeland boy with terminal cancer gets surprise from Santa
News


ZEELAND, Mich. (WZZM) -- The holiday season is bittersweet for an Ottawa County family. They're giving their 6-year-old twin boys the best Christmas ever.

One of them is healthy, the other has terminal cancer.

"The deck has been stacked against him, that's for sure", says Mark Wiersma. He and his wife Kate had twins Max and Wes in 2009. "We made it to 24 weeks and five days," he continued. "Two boys: 1lb 10 oz. and 1lb and 11 oz.," says Kate.

Max and Wes spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit. Wes went home first. "Max immediately showed signs of bigger issues." Mark says, "His lungs for whatever reason, were in way worse condition."

Mark and Kate say it's a miracle he survived. After 5 months in the hospital, Max got to go home. He was doing well until his third birthday. "We thought it was just going to be pneumonia, but it turned out to be liver cancer. So, that was a shocker, didn't expect that at all," says Kate.

After several rounds of chemo, doctors decided Max needed a new liver. "Finally got a call from Motts in Ann Arbor that we had a liver. He got a transplant and it was great. Never had any issues, it's been amazing." The Wiersma's were grateful for miracle number two. "Yeah, we made it. We beat cancer." They celebrated life for another year and half. Max even went off his ventilator. Then, last year, he got sick again. "And we knew it was bad because it was by his lungs."

Max was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a cancer found in the bone or soft tissue. In Max's case, it was around his ribs. He had several rounds of radiation and and chemotherapy. "After the 14th round, his immune system was shot and he got a fungal infection." That meant no more cancer treatments for Max. His body was too weak. "There's still no cure for him. He's a terminal patient. We can't give him any more chemotherapy," says Mark.

HOSPICE:

For the first time Max's life, the Wiersma's had to consider Hospice. Most would agree, it's a scary word.

Sarah Wright is with Hospice of Michigan. "No family wants us. I've heard pediatric hospice described as the journey nobody wants to take. But they are so grateful our services are here." Wright is involved with the Anchors Programs for children. It's the only pediatric program in West Michigan. Max is one of her patients.

"Miss Sarah is our friend. She comes and checks on him. It's not this end feeling. It's more like, we're going to give you as much quality time that we can give you," says Kate.

Sarah says it's the most rewarding job she can imagine. "It's so intimate and beautiful to be able to see everything stripped down to important pieces and what really matters."

"So now, we're enjoying our 6-year-old phase instead of curing cancer stage. We're letting him enjoy being six and enjoying the time we have," says Kate. That means making this Christmas better than ever and making wishes come true.

SANTA SURPRISES BOYS:

Hospice of Michigan arranged a special visit from Santa. For the Wiersma's, it represented a milestone. They were told that Max might not make it through Labor Day. It's three months later and Max is still feeling good.

"Why don't you give Santa a big hug and say thank you for spending it with us," Kate tells the boys.

She knows that they can't have Max as long as they would like. So, for now, they are focusing on making memories. "They obviously don't grasp the gravity of the situation. So, we're just trying to make it as much fun for them or what they think was fun," says Mark.

"For the third time in his life, he's gotten a miracle and we don't know how long it's going to last, so we're going to cherish every day and celebrate the fact that he's still here."

For more information on Hospice of Michigan visit http://www.hom.org.


News

Holland - Zeeland Deals