"[It has] given us a deeper appreciation for those who bravely stare fear in the face and still find the courage to fight everyday in spite of their pain."
Andre was diagnosed with Wilms' Tumor - a malignant tumor of the kidney - at the age of 10. Andre's mom had just quit her full-time job as a 9-1-1 dispatcher days before Andre's diagnosis. She had accepted a new position at his school on the same day of his diagnosis, but never got to start the new position. By that evening, all of their future plans had changed drastically.
Pinky Swear helped ease the immense financial stress that suddenly loomed over Andre's household. In addition to helping with a grant for a mortgage payment, Pinky Swear also provided his family a weekend of memories and a time-out for fun with an All-Star Weekend. From the thoughtful gifts laid out by volunteers prior to hotel check in, to the royal treatment by hotel staff all weekend long, to the gift card that helped cover meals and sundries, to the Nickelodeon Universe and Sea Life Aquarium passes - the whole weekend was unbelievable and provided lots of opportunities for smiles that were otherwise few and far between.
While Andre's treatment was difficult in many ways, his mom reports that it has affected his family in many positive ways, too. "It has opened our eyes to the world of childhood cancer - and given us a deeper appreciation for those who bravely stare fear in the face and still find the courage to fight everyday in spite of their pain," says Andre's mom, Amy.
"Not only has it helped us have an understanding of what it's like to be given news you never expected to hear, and to learn words and concepts you never thought you'd need to know, but his treatment has also helped us to understand what it's like to receive much needed help and support from some amazing organizations. It has helped us realize that not only do these groups have admirable missions, dedicated volunteers, and supporters, but far beyond their mission is the effect they actually have on the lives of average people who suddenly need it - like us."
Pinky Swear was one of the organizations that Andre and his family remain incredibly grateful for for their support during the early days of Andre's treatment. Andre is now an energetic, mischievous, lively 12-year-old boy with an infectious smile. He has completed treatment and continues to have routine check ups every three months at Children's Hospital and Clinic in Minneapolis.