For 7 year old Aidan Stotz, the youngest ambassador for Children's MiracleNetwork, it began as quickly as this: one minute he was outside playing, the next he was buckled over in pain.
"One day I started having terrible tummy aches and I kept on asking my mom for a certain medicine to try to help me fight off stuff like my tummy ache, and we went to the hospital and they did an x-ray on me and they said I had a sickness," Aidan said.
That sickness turned out to be neuroblastoma, one of the most aggressive forms of childhood cancer. Aidan was just four years old when doctors found a massive tumor in his stomach.
His parents, Carrie and Randy, thought his world and theirs was over.
"It was an unbelievable moment for us because we were looking at him, he's four and a half running around. Just that morning he and his daddy were wrestling on the floor, laughing and having fun, and they tell us that he has cancer and a very advanced stage of cancer," Carrie said.
“As a parent seeing your kid so sick, there were so many different times that we were looking at each other going, ‘how are we going to make it through this?’" Randy said.
Aidan began a yearlong series of treatments at Children’s Memorial Hospital, undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, a triple stem cell transplant and surgery to remove the tumor.
"They did a whole bunch of tests on me, and after all the tests, it was time for me to have surgery. And that was the time when I felt better, when they took out the tumor, the tumor that was causing all my pain, and if it grew any bigger I would have died," Aidan said.
Today Aidan is cancer-free. Randy keeps a picture on his dresser to remind him how his son’s courage helped him get through it all.
"He’s in the playroom, and he’s got this drum set, and he got his hands in the air almost like a victory sign, and I look at that every morning," Randy said. “That picture captured his strength and his whole being during the whole process, and I fill with pride every time I look at that picture."
Aidan even has his own way of raising money for others: saving all his change in a piggybank he keeps in his bedroom.
"A lot of people donated money for me to help me and I just do the same thing for other kids. Maybe I can donate it to Danny, the kid who had cancer just like me," Aidan said.
Last year he was even invited to the White House to share his remarkable journey.
These days, it’s hard to believe Aidan even had cancer, and he knows, miracles do happen – everyday, any minute, just like that.
"A miracle actually can happen at Children’s Memorial Hospital," Aidan said. "I owe my whole entire life to them."
Watch our full interview with Aidan:
FOX Chicago is teaming up with the Children's Miracle Network. We'll be sharing the stories of other children suffering from life-threatening conditions.
These children need a miracle, and that's where you come in. It is through your generosity that the Children's Miracle Network raised more than $6 million last year to benefit all programs at Children's Memorial Hospital in Lincoln Park.