Englewood family targets childhood cancer

After long treatment, girl's parents assist St. Baldrick's Foundation

Joseph Rios
jrios@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/20/20

Englewood resident Hailey Walker will never forget the moment when she was at the Children's Hospital Colorado last October. Her daughter Hudson Walker, who is 18 months old, was fighting Ewing's …

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Englewood family targets childhood cancer

After long treatment, girl's parents assist St. Baldrick's Foundation

Posted

Englewood resident Hailey Walker will never forget the moment when she was at the Children's Hospital Colorado last October. Her daughter Hudson Walker, who is 18 months old, was fighting Ewing's sarcoma, a cancerous tumor that grows in the bones or in the tissue around the bones.

But after seven months of treatment, Walker received news from Hudson's doctor at the hospital that the girl was cancer-free. Following the news, Hudson got to ring a bell signifying that she was done with cancer.

“It was the best moment ever. It was magical,” said Walker.

Not every parent gets to have that magical moment of finding out their child is cancer free. According to CureSearch for Children's Cancer, a nonprofit that works to accelerate searches for cures for childhood cancers, 12% of children diagnosed with cancer do not survive.

The St. Baldrick's Foundation wants to change that statistic, and Hudson, Walker and Thomas — Hudson's father and Walker's husband — are assisting the organization.

The three Englewood residents are serving as ambassadors for the St. Baldrick's Foundation — an organization that funds childhood cancer research grants. The ambassador position is used as a spokesperson role to raise awareness about childhood cancers and the need to fund research to find cures and better treatments, according to the St. Baldrick's Foundation. Along with sharing their stories, the ambassadors attend events and fundraisers to raise awareness about childhood cancers.

“All of our families have different types of stories. Having them be a spokesperson gives the general population a glimpse into their life,” said Michele Franco, the interim director for the St. Baldrick's Foundation. “This is real life and we need all the help we can get.”

Hudson was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma last February, and she immediately began chemotherapy. Doctors also removed her left scapula bone to get rid of the tumor. Although she is doing well today, the side effects from the treatments took a toll on Hudson. She suffered from extreme nausea, high fevers, a low blood count and more. Walker says Hudson doesn't have the normal appetite of an 18-month-old, because she didn't have an appetite for eight months.

“I just really think it's important research is done, and not just for finding better cures, but cures that have less side effects. After seeing everything (Hudson) went through and side effects that we don't even know she's going to experience long term, we felt it was important to get involved with (the St. Baldrick's Foundation),” said Walker.

Throughout the year, the St. Baldrick's Foundation hosts numerous fundraising efforts, including head-shaving events. The money is used to fund childhood cancer researchers like the Pediatric Cancer Dream Team. The team is made up of pediatric cancer researchers who work to develop new immunotherapeutics — a treatment method of a disease that induces, enhances or suppresses an immune response. The organization also funds local hospitals who treat children with cancer.

“Research is the key to finding cures and less toxic treatments for childhood cancers to give survivors long and healthy lives. When we talk about children being our future, kids with cancer need the opportunity to survive, thrive and have a healthy future as well,” said Jane Hoppen, director of family relations for the St. Baldrick's Foundation.

To donate to the St. Baldrick's Foundation, visit stbaldricks.org/donate.

“When we were going through the whole process (doctors) were telling us that now, (treatment) is so much better than 10 years before because of the research. For us, any research that can be done to hopefully eliminate side effects can be a plus for families and kids that have to go through this in the future,” said Thomas Walker.

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