Lanisa and I met in 2010 and got married in 2017 in downtown Phoenix. In September of 2018 our amazing little baby boy Nicco was born. We basically picked his name from our "name list" last minute as we were walking out of the hospital. But it was the perfect name for him. We had the picture perfect first few years of doing all the things we love; traveling, riding bikes, swimming, being outside exploring nature and just letting Nicco be a kid. Leading up to his 4th birthday in September of 2022, we had his entire birthday planned out and the invites were delivered. A few days before his birthday we decided to call his doctor and get him in for an early yearly check-up. There were a few things that we were concerned about, but kind of brushed it all off as growing pains or just thought it was a phase. After talking with Nicco's doctor, he asked to have a chest X-ray done. We went right away to have one done and when we returned and gave the doctor the X-ray, he walked in and sat down. I knew right away from his look that something wasn't right. The X-ray showed a huge mass in his chest. We were instructed to go home to pack and go straight to the children's hospital.
That morning started much like all the ones before, ready to wake up and have a fun day. Next thing we knew we were sitting in the emergency room waiting to be checked into the Banner Desert Children's hospital in Mesa. After being admitted and some more X-rays and tests, it was confirmed to be cancer. We were devastated as all parents would be. We all know someone who has died from cancer so we all have this embedded fear of it. But we have something stronger than fear and that's faith in Jesus Christ. We are members of an amazing church community in Gilbert and believe in God's work and plan.
Next, was to determine what kind of cancer it was. We woke up on his 4th birthday in the hospital room and to a confirmed diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic T-Cell Leukemia. We planned for a birthday party, but never planned for this. An amazing team of doctors and nurses were assigned to his treatment plan and he began chemotherapy that same day. X-rays showed the mass in his chest and torsoe was pressing on his airway and heart. Another sign that God is at work, making sure we found this mass before it was too late. Thank you God. We stayed in the hospital for 8 days before being released to go home for outpatient treatment. During this stay, Nicco was so brave and courageous through all the testing, procedures, IV's, poking and prodding and X-rays and so many scary things. He was so thankful for the help he was receiving, as were we. He even later said he had the best birthday ever, which made us just melt.
After coming home we started outpatient treatment. We picked up a ton of medicines and a plan for the next few weeks. Nicco slowly began to get into a routine after coming home. He went from scared to take medication, to proud to show us he could take it all on his own, within just a couple weeks. He slowly began being active again and we pushed him every day to eat well and to get outside and exercise. He even asked to have his training wheels removed from his bike and he did absolutely amazing so quickly. His attitude each day continues to be so inspiring.
We currently have a road map of different phases of treatment provided by his team of doctors and nurses, although we really continue to take it one day at a time as we navigate through this challenging time. Nicco has had stretches of 3 weeks or more of chemotherapy every day multiple different times already. Most days he wakes up excited to go exclaiming, "I can't wait to get my chemo today!" He gets blood tests done almost weekly to check his counts. Several times we have paused his treatments due to low numbers. At times he has had low white blood cell counts, low red blood cell counts, even high and low platelet counts at one point. Overall his body is responding really well to his treatment plan. All glory and praise to God. The week of Thanksgiving Nicco had a severe reaction to one of his chemotherapy's and gave us a huge scare. Luckily a team of nurses and a doctor came in to stabilize him. It forced us to start a secondary version of that particular chemo, which typically requires four shots a week. He helps the nurses and watches as they do it every time. He is such a brave boy.
We will continue to follow the treatment plan the doctors have us on. His total treatment is scheduled to go until February 2025 if all goes well. It is a long road with several more phases of treatment, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. We will continue to put our faith in God more than ever. Nicco recently asked to return to his church preschool class (while we attend the grown-up service) and was given the okay if masked and washes hands well after. This is amazing and we love that he wants to get back to in-person church. God is great.
We truly know the power of community and how amazing it is when people come together. The bills have started coming in and although we both work jobs we love, we need to be home more and take days off to get Nicco to appointments almost daily and to just support him through everything. Through it all his attitude is God sent and we know we are truly blessed. There are many people that aren't as lucky as we are, even in this situation. We have only began this journey and we do not know what to expect going forward, but we are positive, thankful and know we will get through this and be stronger. Nicco will grow up not having the same fear of cancer that we grew up with. He is truly a super-hero
If you would like to help the Helms family with their daily needs, they have created a wish list of things that would make their lives just a bit brighter.
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