Just a week before Dustin's second birthday, his family's whole world changed.
An adorable and energetic toddler, Dustin showed no sign that anything was wrong until he fell in the family kitchen. His mother, Cheryl, watched him carefully afterward, and in the hours that followed she noticed a little discoloration in his urine. Slightly concerned, Cheryl called Dustin's pediatrician, who told her to monitor him overnight and note anything unusual.
The next day, Cheryl decided to take Dustin to the doctor. Despite her growing anxiety, she was still surprised when–after thoroughly examining Dustin–the doctor had him rushed to the emergency room.
"I felt my knees buckle when the ER doctor told me that Dustin had a small tumor in his kidney," Cheryl says. "When I asked him if it was cancer, I was horrified to hear him say, 'Any tumor in the kidney is cancer.'"
Dustin's parents quickly reached out to friends and family, searching for the best hospital to treat their son. They decided to take a physician-friend's recommendation: Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital.
"The doctors first thought that Dustin's tumor was 'Wilms tumor', a common childhood cancer," Cheryl says. "But when the pathology report came back, we received even more devastating news: Dustin's cancer was identified as 'clear cell sarcoma,' a very rare childhood cancer."
For nearly two weeks, Dustin's parents barely endured as the healthcare team at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital worked to save their son–and to support the entire family. Then came the breakthrough.
"From day 12 onward, we got better and better news about Dustin's progress," Cheryl says.
During the next five years, Dustin continued to undergo radiation and chemotherapy, with full-body scans every three months.
"Not long ago, Dustin had his last scan, and it was clear," Cheryl says, "we always will be grateful to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital for its leading-edge pediatric medical technology and for its team of the nation's finest–and most loving–physicians and healthcare professionals. Thanks to them, Dustin is cancer-free!"