Sunday, May 12, 2013

An Inspirational Hero: Trevor Roach

Amber Eliff Wesley

My daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters have a large and very close circle of friends. This group of families gathers together frequently: camping, celebrating birthdays, supporting and sharing life with one another; the kids have pretty much all grown up together as one large, extended family.

Trevor Roach is the 12-year-old son of one of these friends, a boy with the biggest smile you can imagine (well, you don’t have to imagine because you can see it above) and a heart to go with it. Skateboarding, riding dirt bikes, playing Legos – a kid filled with excitement and joy; all boy.

Trev was initially diagnosed with cancer (leukemia) on 12/29/10 when he was just 9 years old. He fought the cancer with courage and chemo, went into remission after 1 - 2 rounds and continued his treatment session. He was doing so well that he had the line removed in September 2011. Before Christmas 2011, his mom Belinda saw the signs that the cancer was back, but the blood tests said otherwise. On 1/11/12, his blood tests finally caught up with the signs his mom was seeing (a mother knows her child) and his cancer was back in full force. He was once again admitted to the hospital and the line was put back in.

Chemo was started immediately. His doctors suggested that a bone marrow transplant was his best hope for beating cancer for good. On 2/28/12, a donor was found who was an 8 out of 10 on the matching scale. On 4/27/12, Trev had his bone marrow transplant and was “re-born.”
Although his health improved after his transplant, his donor cells never fully took over his body. At the end of August, just 125 days after the transplant, Trevor’s cancer was back with a vengeance. This brave, young boy fought the cancer this 3rd round with every chemo drug known, even ones that haven’t been used in years; his doctors had to get FDA approvals to use some of the medications. Nothing worked to keep the cancer at bay. It aggressively took over his body.

He was able to go on a big family-and-friends camping trip for New Years 2013 and rode a quad with boyish joy from sunrise to sunset for three days straight. Then it was back to the hospital for platelets and more tests. Friday 1/4/13: young Trev was readmitted into the hospital—his body 93% cancer-ridden—and it was estimated he had a few weeks left. Another round of treatment helped to prolong his life for a few additional weeks. He was able to go home to spend good times with his loving family (mom, dad, older brother and younger sister). Trevor was readmitted on April 6 for the last time. The cancer spread to his spleen, then to his liver and on April 18, shortly after midnight, Trevor beat the cancer by leaving it behind in his body. It may have conquered his body, but it could never, ever conquer his courageous spirit.  

Trevor Roach had the hugest amount of fight in him and was always smiling, even on his bad days with fevers and sickness. He had the best time he could have on his good days, loving dirt bike riding, trains, remote control cars, boats and trucks and especially Legos. He was the Lego master!

Countless people were touched by his story and fighting spirit. He was visited in the hospital by sports celebrities and others, including Brian Deegan, Kyle Loza, LA Sheriff’s SWAT, Wheelz, a few members of the Ducks and many others.

In his last few weeks at CHOC, there were over 30 people a day from his extended circle of friends visiting Trevor, giving him their love and support. He loved it! He was surrounded by hundreds of family friends, teachers, nurses, children, sports figures and all who grew to love him and his strong spirit.

At the celebration of his life on April 28, the mortuary was packed to overflowing with hundreds of people whose lives were touched by this hero-child; the chapel was filled, the courtyard, the foyer and overflowing outside. The mother of a little girl who also had cancer and shared a hospital room with Trevor told of how this rough-and-tumble little boy would get on the hospital room floor with her daughter to play tea party; so kind-hearted and generous.

My daughter and her family weren’t here for Mother's Day today ... and for very good reason. In young Trev's last days, he asked his mom if they could go to Big Bear Lake one last time. As sick as he was, she had to tell him no, but “we’ll meet you there afterward” at the first opportunity. So, Trevor's family, my daughter's family and other close friends went camping in Big Bear this weekend to meet Trevor and celebrate him in the beautiful mountains he wanted to visit again.