WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) – It takes a village.
That’s how one central Ohio mother described the support she’s received from her Westerville community after her husband and son were both diagnosed with aggressive forms of cancer.
Now, on the anniversary of her son’s first surgery, she’s grateful that he is thriving thanks to new research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Carter Daggett is a young boy full of personality. His mother Liz recently took him to his first Columbus Blue Jackets game to celebrate his ninth birthday.
“And we got to hear the cannons go off,” Carter Daggett said. “The cannons always scare me.”
To see their smiles, you’d almost never imagine the hardships they’ve endured.
“There is where found out the worst news that any parent could ever possibly hear,” Liz Daggett said.
When Carter was just 1, doctors at Nationwide Children’s discovered an extremely rare tumor on his brain.
“Fortunately, it was in a spot that could be operated on,” Liz Daggett said.
Carter immediately underwent surgery, but his family had to move to Philadelphia for cancer treatments.
“It was so rare, so there wasn’t a treatment route that was kind of textbook,” Liz Daggett said.
While in Philadelphia, Liz gave birth to her daughter Emma, and the Daggetts eventually moved back to Columbus.
Liz said just as the family started to adjust to their new normal, her husband Tony was diagnosed with colon cancer.
“Because it is odd, right, that two immediate family members would have cancer, and there’s no correlation to it,” Liz Daggett said.
Tony lost his battle with cancer 18 months later.
“And just after he passed away — it was about 6 months after he passed away — that Carter’s reoccurrence happened,” Liz Daggett said.
After living through their worst nightmare, at age 5, Carter’s cancer returned, and he underwent another surgery to remove the tumor once again.
“We were kind of heartbroken because we had gone through all of this treatment,” Liz Daggett said.
But due to new advancements, Nationwide Children’s researchers were able to sequence Carter’s tumor.
“It really takes a village to treat these kids effectively,” said Dr. Nick Yeager from Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
And thanks to new technology and discoveries, Carter’s oncologist was able to prescribe an oral chemotherapy that’s kept him cancer-free and thriving.
“Carter’s kind of a true example of a multi-disciplinary effort, you know,” Yeager said. “He wouldn’t be where he is without the surgeons who were involved in removing the tumor and the radiation doctors.”
“I’m forever grateful for it and I think, you know, where will we be 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, and hopefully there will be a cure for it one day and no one will have to go through this,” Liz Daggett said.
Carter now braves checkups every six months.
“It’s scary, but you’ve been super brave, right?” Liz Daggett says to her son.
And Liz said she’s full of gratitude for the support she’s received along the family’s journey.
“This community is amazing, you know?” she said. “Family and friends, so helpful.”
She just hopes her little warrior will continue to stay cancer-free.
“I just want him to be happy and healthy and we’re there right now and we’re going to take it day by day,” Liz Daggett said.
Liz calls Carter living proof that new advancements in cancer research can really save lives, and she’s grateful to his team of doctors at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.