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Meet Hesston

At the end of summer vacation in 2019, three-year old Hesston was admitted to the hospital for a seemingly innocent bowel obstruction. After a middle of the night emergency surgery, he and his mom were life flighted from Idaho Falls, Idaho to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. He spent his first five days intubated and sedated while the doctors figured out that he had developed Stage 4 Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a Non-Hodgkin’s type of Lymphoma affecting the Lymphatic System. Six days after arriving in Salt Lake, Hesston began his months long regimen of Chemo therapy, but only three days into treatment, his bowel repair failed, and, on Labor Day, he was rushed into surgery again, where, with the addition of his new stoma, his life was changed forever.

He spent five weeks away from home in the hospital not seeing his siblings or friends. When he was able to come home for a few days between treatments, he remained isolated to prevent infection. Between the chemo therapy and changes to his digestive system, Hesston became weak and very discouraged. The toll was also felt by Hesston’s brother and sisters, who often worried if he was ever going to come home again. His oldest sister, and best friend, developed anxiety and depression, which she carried with her for years after Hesston’s treatment concluded, worrying every time he went in for follow up. Being constantly away from home, Hesston’s mom was without the support of friends and family and became withdrawn. The impact of Hesston’s cancer lasted beyond the end of his treatment.

When going through a traumatic event like this, it is hard to explain how important it is to have a friend or someone to talk to. Hesston’s mom would say “I can’t talk to anyone cause nobody gets it. You have to experience it to understand.” It remained this way until Hesston’s mom was introduced to Camp Magical Moments (CMM), an amazing group of caring individuals who give so much of themselves to brighten the lives of child cancer patients AND their entire families. Hesston’s mom was able to attend Mom’s Retreat, where she connected with other moms who she was able to bond with. Hesston’s siblings were able to attend SIBS camp, where his oldest sister met friends that she will keep for life. Camp has allowed the kids to express what they are feeling and just have unconditional fun without the worries of the cancer. Hesston’s dad was even invited to attend Dad’s Camp, “An experience I am glad I had the opportunity to be a part of. I connect with these other dads and have a great time doing it.”

Hesston at Camp

In 2023, Hesston was able to attend his first Cancer Camp at CMM. “I loved it,” he says, “everything was dinosaurs yummy food.” Hesston has met other amazing kids who have been where he was. He has also met a group of councilors who will be there for him if he ever needs an escape from his reality. As a result of his CMM experience, Hesston is learning to be outgoing and gaining the confidence to try new things while being in a caring environment with friends who he will share memories with for many years of camping to come.

Hesston would like you to know: “Cancer Camp at CMM is awesome! Thanks for helping me go.”