Not Tinkerbell’s wings, although I do love Tinkerbell and that movie when she finds her long lost sister in the winter forest. These wings are more near and dear to me than any Disney movie could ever be.
In July of 2015, our then 3-year old son, Rocco was diagnosed with cancer. Cancer, it almost pains me to type the word. I never expected to hear those words, especially about one of my kids. He had been experiencing some unusual symptoms with unexplained rashes, extreme fatigue, and then one day his tummy seemed rather protruding. In the Corsini house, a protruding belly is no stranger, but this was unusual. We called the pediatrician after hours and her suspicion initially was his appendix. We had him jump up and down, no pain, so we went to visit her the next day. I will never forget her face. She quietly said to me, “I think you need to go. You need to go to the hospital. Please find someone to keep the girls and you and Ken need to take him now.” She was very calm and steady in her voice but shaken inside. I guess I felt the same way, but cancer didn’t even enter my mind.
We headed down to Scottish Rite emergency room, they examined him, he had an ultrasound, some lab work, and then a bomb dropped and totally blew up our little world. He was admitted and diagnosed with a Wilms tumor on his kidney. At the time, his kidneys were barely functioning, so a biopsy was too dangerous. Rocco began treatment immediately and immediately became gravely ill. His tumor was lysing, which is unusual for a solid tumor. We kept him on the protocol until the tumor shrunk enough to do surgery. In September, we had surgery to remove the tumor and a portion of his kidney. A week later, we learned – it wasn’t a Wilms Tumor – it was Burkitts Lymphoma. Burkitts is a completely different type of cancer and it was no wonder he was responding terribly to the other protocol. We had to start over. New doctors, new protocol, new fears, you name it. We were terrified.
It was a long and windy road with lots of bumps and turns in between but come Thanksgiving time we had completed our treatment. We held our breath on illness and fever and prayed for no relapse. Today we have ourselves a very healthy, thriving 8-year-old boy who has a tender heart, is extremely thoughtful, who teases his sisters, smells stinky and leaves his socks all over the house. You see, he is a pretty typical 8-year-old boy who is also survivor and our hero.
If you are newly in this boat, we are so sorry. We would encourage you to take everything day by day and sometimes minute by minute. Take a lot of pictures, make silly memories that will never be forgotten, and always treasure the little things. You will see a new side of humanity, when someone offers help, don’t be afraid to take it. If you need to cry, do it, if you need a friend, tell them. Sometimes those close to us don’t know how to love us through a time like this.
After his treatment a production company called us and asked if we wanted to interview for a possibly house flipping show. I laughed and told Ken, “Why not, you only live once, and nobody is gonna put us on TV!” Fast forward and here we are premiering our 2nd season of Flip or Flop Atlanta, Thursday, October 11th at 9pm on HGTV. This season in every reveal at the end of the show I staged with a pair of angel wings to honor all children and families who are connected to childhood cancer. I use wings as a symbol of hope and encouragement to all in the community to remind you that you are not alone. Something special for all the warriors out there.
So that’s the secret, well, our secret of the wings, Tinkerbell has her secret too, but I think ours is kinda special.