At just the tender age of eight, Kenny Thomas began to lose a significant amount of weight, suffered from a persistent cough and would wake in the middle of night in a sweat. Following one doctor’s analysis, Lori, Kenny’s mother, insisted on taking him to the emergency room. Thanks to her maternal instincts, doctors were able to conduct a chest x-ray on the adolescent, which revealed a stage three cancerous mass in Kenny’s chest. The diagnosis was Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Following his diagnosis, Kenny commenced his courageous battle with cancer. Throughout his battle, Kenny persevered through tough treatments and therapies. In 2012, Kenny and his family were told that the adolescent’s cancer was in remission. As a result, Kenny was able to return to school and enjoy daily routines many of us take for granted, like playing sports and hanging out with friends. In May 2014, Kenny was declared cancer-free.
Kenny’s story is just one of the many heart-touching stories made possible with the help of pediatric cancer funding. With funding from Hyundai Hope On Wheels, children are given another chance at life.
When asked what advice she would give other mothers with children battling cancer, Lori responded, “I would suggest, as best as you can, to keep things on a normal playing field. We had Kenny continue his reading. We had him home schooled and when he was in the hospital, we had teachers go to him.” She continued, “Leave the anxieties and the distress at the hospital door, before entering your child’s room. Your child can read you. I remember when Kenny first asked if I had been crying and I told myself I could not keep doing that. I had to act [tough] for him and myself.”
Kenny, who will soon be celebrating his three-year anniversary of remission in December, is back to his old self again. The 11-year-old shared inspirational words for other children undergoing cancer treatment: “Never give up. You have to be strong for yourself and your families. I suggest finding something that interests you, something that you can do at home or at the hospital like drawing. For me it was music. I learned all kinds of music – from the blues to jazz, country and rock and roll. It helped me get through the treatments and helped me cope when I wasn’t feeling well. I learned that the music kept my mind focused on something other than what I was going through. It kept my mind occupied.”
Since the inception of Hyundai Hope On Wheels in 1998, the organization has raised $100 million in pediatric cancer research.
“There’s no higher calling than to make sure our children have the best future possible and it’s both an honor and privilege to support such an important cause,” said Dave Zuchowski, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. “While we are making positive strides in many areas of pediatric cancer, there’s still work to do. And it also doesn’t change the fact that every 36 minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer. Reaching the milestone of $100 million in giving is something we are proud of at Hyundai but the fight continues and we are determined in our mission to one day find a cure. To all the kids, families and cancer researchers on the front lines of childhood cancer – know that you are not alone and we remain committed over the long-term to this important cause. ”
Watch Kenny’s story below. Be sure to visit hyundaihopeonwheels.org to see how you can help the organization battle pediatric cancer.