Kelli Williams holds her son, Isaac, who has been in remission for two years after undergoing treatment for stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma.
On July 19, 2017, Kelli and Dennis Williams sat in a pre-op room at Seattle Children’s with their 22-month-old son, Isaac. Kelli hugged her little boy close. He was dressed in a yellow hospital gown, happily playing with the iPad Child Life had loaned him. Kelli and Dennis did their best to appear calm in front of their son, but inside they were terrified.
Isaac had stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma. He’d already been through four months of chemotherapy and now Dr. John Waldhausen, a surgeon specializing in neuroblastoma cases, was going to remove a tumor the size of a navel orange from his abdomen.
“I had been so focused on managing Isaac’s treatment plan that it didn’t hit me until that morning that my son was about to be lying on an operating table,” remembered Kelli. “I just held him and tried not to cry.”
The day before Isaac’s surgery, the Williamses invited their family members and their church pastor into their home.
“We all circled around Isaac,” said Kelli. “Our pastor prayed over him, he prayed for Dr. Waldhausen, that his hands and his team would get out exactly what needed to come out, and nothing more.”
As they waited in the pre-op room, Kelli and Dennis realized it would be the last time they would see Isaac’s smooth, flawless belly. After surgery, he would have a large scar, stretching from hip to hip and up to his chest, a permanent reminder of his illness.
“I lifted up his shirt and tickled his stomach before he went in, knowing it would never look the same,” remembered Dennis. “It made me pretty sad.”
When a nurse came to get Isaac, Kelli reluctantly handed over her child.
“We’re going to take good care of him,” the nurse kindly reassured her.
Isaac happily waved goodbye to his mom and dad, and they kept up their smiles until he was out of sight. Then Kelli broke down, letting out all the tears she’d been holding back. Read full post »