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For Chase Gordon, 2011 is shaping up to be a better year than 2010.
After undergoing surgery for cancer in 2009, the 4 year old celebrated New Year’s Day at Disney World with his parents, David and Nicole, and brothers Cody, 7, and Braxton, 5, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
For his parents, the vacation was an early wedding anniversary present. The Gordons were married Jan. 16, 2005.
The Gordons were in Orlando from Dec. 29 to Jan. 4.
David said Levine Children’s Hospital at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation on Chase’s behalf.
While the Make-A-Wish Foundation covered all of the Gordon’s expenses, the Lancaster High School Student Body signed on to help come up with the money through the foundation’s Adopt-A-Wish program.
“A trip to Disney World isn’t cheap,” David said.
Debbie Rowell, LHS Student Council advisor, said the school raised $4,500 of the cost to make Chase’s wish come true, including $2,200 by senior class vice president Brittany Canady.
“I’ve always had a good life and just to hear about a three year old being so sick just broke my heart,” Canady said. “I just wanted Chase to be happy.”
“Everyone was for it and the homecoming court was really touched by Chase’s story,” she said.
Canady posted a picture of her with Chase on the nationwide Make-A-Wish Facebook page.
The photo was seen by Olga Flores, who works for Las Vegas attorney Bob Massi. Massi appears on Court TV, the FOX News Channel and hosts the syndicated radio show, “A Layman’s Guide to the Law.”
Rowell said Massi sent a check for $2,000 and one of Flores’ friends also donated $25.
“I just posted the picture to be doing it, and at first I thought she (Flores) was joking,” Canady said. “I was surprised that someone so far away would care enough to do something about it.”
“It was really touching that people from the other side of the country came together with us to help Chase get his wish,” Rowell said.
Nicole said until now, taking their children to Disney World was a pipe dream.
“This is the happiest we’ve been since before finding out Chase was sick,” Nicole said.
Chase was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma in July 2009 after his left eye started bulging and a visible lump showed up on his right temple. At the time, he was only 2 years old.
Subsequent test uncovered cancerous cells in his adrenal gland, jaw, the back of his skull, left shoulder, hips and vertebrae.
Since then, Chase has gone through three different types of chemotherapy, more than a half dozen blood and platelet transfusions and surgery.
“It was just awful,” Nicole said. “I prayed every night for God to make him better and to let me be the one who was sick. Every time Chase gets hurt, he wants me to kiss his ‘boo-boos’ and make it all better. But something like cancer, you can’t kiss away.”
The image of his young son in the intensive care unit at Levine’s after 7 1/2 hours of surgery in November 2009 to remove a cancerous tumor remains etched in David’s mind. Surgeons originally estimated the procedure would take about three hours. However, they found more cancerous cells on the back side of Chase’s aorta which prolonged surgery.
He said nurses had told him what to expect when they saw Chase for the first time after the surgery, but that warning only went so far.
David said seeing his young son draped in only a diaper with a severely swollen face and “tubes everywhere” was a helpless feeling.
Nicole said when Chase was in ICU, she could see the goose bumps on his skin and wanted to wrap him in a blanket, but it wasn’t allowed due to post-surgical swelling.
“When he was hurting or sick from chemo, Chase would always climb into my lap and say, ‘pet me Daddy,’” David said as his eyes moistened.
“Seeing Chase like that was tough,” his dad said. “There wasn’t anything we could do for him.”
Slowly, their son began to recover. He has gone through several more procedures since then.
The Disney World trip had been in the works for some time, but Chase couldn’t go until his doctors allowed it. Chase’s Accutene therapy ended in October and the Levine staff gave the youngster a clean bill of health and permission to go see Mickey Mouse.
Chase now attends preschool classes at Second Baptist Church.
“He’s come a long way,” David said.
David said his family owes a debt of gratitude to all who have helped, including the LHS student body.
“Some kids have been brought up to help other people, but when that kind of money gets raised, you have to give them credit,” David said.
“We’ve told them thank you I don’t know how many times, but thank you isn’t enough,” Nicole said. “You wouldn’t think high school kids would do something like this. It’s been heartwarming.”