A Legacy “Krusade”
One brave battle inspires support for his furry friends
Some people work their entire lives to carve out a legacy. Kameron’s became defined earlier than his parents ever imagined – and it was bittersweet.
“Crazy Kameron” they called him. He loved silly hats, soccer and animals. But mostly, he loved dogs.
When he was just 8, Kameron was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive pediatric cancer. It was a shock for a kid who was rarely ever sick at all. For two and a half years, he battled with courage and confidence, with the help of his parents and older brother. But it was some special friends in the Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) Program at Phoenix Children’s Hospital that led Kameron to understand his purpose while most boys his age were worrying about new math and video games.
AAT – or the deliberate use of specially trained animals in medical care settings — plays a vital role in family-centered care at Phoenix Children’s. It’s easy to see therapy animals bring cheer, but research has also shown interactions can promote physiological healing. Brushing, petting or reduces anxiety and stress.
For 11-year-old Kameron, visits from pups like “Tiger” helped ease the boredom and isolation that can accompany the long hours spent undergoing chemotherapy. “As a parent, it’s so heartwarming to know there are people giving up their own time to come and give my child just a little bit of joy,” Kameron’s mom, Debbie said. Playing with the dogs, Kameron said, just made him “happy.”
For a time, Kameron enjoyed remission. But in the spring of 2019, the cancer returned, and doctors had done everything possible to save his life. His parents made the decision to stop treatment and allow their sweet son to enjoy whatever time he had. Kameron lived as fully as possible, maintaining top grades as he underwent treatment. And he also never lost his infectious smile.
As Chandler residents, Kameron’s family visited the East Valley Specialty and Urgent Care Center in Mesa. They were especially thankful for one AAT volunteer team that visited East Valley – George and “Tiger,” who could follow his owner’s commands. The Shermans also donated a new bell to the center so pediatric cancer patients could take part in the universal ring that signifies the end of treatment. Theirs is a family steeped in faith and gratitude – always finding way to pay it forward, even in the midst of those dark days.
In July 2019, Kameron’s mom, Debbie, says he was healed in heaven after his long, hard-fought battle. His grieving parents decided to honor his memory the best way they knew how – to launch a foundation to raise funds for the programs that had made a difference for their sweet son. And so, Kameron’s Krusaders has become his legacy, and his parent’s opportunity to pay it forward. And that’s “paws-i-tively” wonderful for so many children whose days become a little brighter with the help of some furry friends.
Your donation to Animal-Assisted Therapy helps patients to experience less stress and more movement, opening the door to healing. Please give here: https://phoenixchildrensfoundation.org/program/animal-assisted-therapy/