It was a fateful day in April 2018 when everything turned upside down for the Williams family. That morning, six-year-old Kadin woke up with a tremendous stomachache, and the family rushed to Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida for emergency pediatric care.
“They did an x-ray and bloodwork, and then the next thing we knew, they were taking out a kidney and telling us it’s cancer. Kadin needed treatment right away,” recalled Amanda Williams, Kadin’s mother.
Unfortunately, cancer is a battle that the Williams family already understood. Amanda had previously beaten a breast cancer diagnosis, and it was hard for her to cope with her son’s news. “When Kadin was first diagnosed, I blamed myself as a cancer survivor,” Amanda said. “I told myself that it was my fault that Kadin got cancer. ‘I did this.’ It’s so hard not to blame yourself.”
While his family coped with the seriousness of the circumstances and faithfully supported little Kadin’s needs, the care team at Golisano Children’s Hospital came together to help the entire Williams family during their time of need. “I don’t know how many times Dr. MacArthur told me it wasn’t my fault,” said Amanda.
“The child life specialist even took time to go to Kadin’s daycare and be with him when he went back to school to show the class his port and scars. They explained to all the kids what Kadin was going through, and showed the difference between one kidney versus having two,” she added. “I can’t say enough about how much I love this team and the doctors.”
Amanda says she will never forget what happened right after Kadin’s first radiation and chemo treatment. “He passed out at home and fell face first onto the tile floor – he blacked out,” she shared.
The family rushed Kadin back to Golisano, where his blood work checked out. He started acting and walking normally, when it happened again. “We opened the elevator doors, and he went down. Dr. Salman was walking by and immediately caught Kadin, called the team, got a wheelchair and stayed with us to make sure he was OK,” said Amanda. “Dr. Salman didn’t know us. He didn’t have to do that. To see a doctor race to help like that as a first instinct meant a lot. I won’t forget it.”
Despite it all, Kadin successfully completed seven rounds of radiation, followed by a series of chemo treatments. Four of the treatments lasted five days, meaning that every day for a week, the Williams would be at the hospital from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. “Cancer was really hard on his body, but despite the treatments and sickness, he was always upbeat,” said Amanda. “His personality really helped. He’d be buried in blankets and a stocking hat, and yet put on a happy face.”
Some things never change. Today, Kadin is an energetic, happy eight-year-old, who dreams of one day becoming a police officer. He plays soccer, and his favorite subjects at school are physical education and drama.
Amanda, who grew up in a small town in Texas, credits the healthcare team at Golisano Children’s Hospital with helping the Williams family make it through the tough experience. “Family is everything where I come from. Family isn’t just biological, it’s your people, your extended family, and that’s what’s essential,” explained Amanda. “That’s the feeling you get at Golisano. YOU are family. You matter. Everyone from the receptionist and security to the nurses and doctors treats you like you’re their family. It’s an incredible feeling, that support and love you can’t describe.”
The recovery rate at Golisano Children’s Hospital surpasses the national average, and families may also receive support during their cancer journey from the Barbara’s Friends fund. More than half of the children treated by Golisano Children’s Hospital are uninsured, on Medicaid or have no form of payment. Donations to Barbara’s Friends assist with the needs of patients and families, clinical trials, counseling, equipment, facilities, staffing and family support.
Each September during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the annual Clips for Cancer event raises money for Barbara’s Friends – the Golisano Children’s Hospital Cancer Fund. All month long, community leaders will have their heads shaved by local children battling cancer.
This year, the event is going virtual! Tune in for the month of September as Kadin takes a razor to the head of the following Clips for Cancer supporters:
Ben Abes, Chief of Lee County Emergency Medical Services – Friday, September 11
Kevin Anderson, Fort Myers City Council Member and member of the Barbara’s Friends Advisory Board – Friday, September 18
Deputy Nathan Kirk, Collier County Sheriffs Department – Friday, September 25
Will you take a stand against cancer with Kadin? “Kids are our future, 100 percent,” said Amanda. “And if you don’t give to them now and help them win this fight, who’s going to give to them later?”