It is a parent's worst fear: something being horribly wrong with their child. That is something one local family first faced 17 years ago. Today, their miracle son is alive thanks to the family's commitment and generous help from the Children's Miracle Network.
Rick Alston was just two years old when a CT scan revealed a mammoth tumor with a softball-sized cyst on his brain. "Shocking, disappointing," said Rick's dad, Darrell, "you absolutely don't know what to expect or what to do."
That was in 1993 and cancer care for young kids was oftentimes experimental. "There had never been a radiation treatment done on a small child and let's realize Rick was only 3 1/2 at the time," said Darrell.
A team of physicians through the Children's Miracle Network and CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital worked fast to coordinate a treatment plan to save Rick's life. "We just got on board at that point to do whatever we could do to try and help Rick fight this," said Rick's mom, Pam.
What quickly followed were numerous surgeries and a shunt to relieve pressure on Rick's brain. Then, the highest amount of chemotherapy possible was recommended because of the rarity and severity of Rick's tumor.
Children's Miracle Network stepped in with the risky radiation process to keep Rick's treatments local. "We had to have a machine brought in to the radiation room to monitor Rick," said Pam, "and that's what CMN helped purchase to keep us here."
Rick's tumor was removed in November 1994 and every day since then has been a testament to this now 20-year-old's strength. "I feel fine," said Rick, "Me and my dad are going golfing this afternoon!"
Rick loves sports and plays a special role for the St. Louis Saints baseball team. "I'm really proud of being a bat boy!" he said.
This fun-loving young man is proof that medical technology really can save lives and that is what the Alstons hope will inspire people in Southwest Louisiana to give to CMN. "There are lots of medical procedures, medical equipment out there that can help one particular child in one particular situation and make things so much easier on the family," said Darrell.
We will be introducing you to more Miracle Kids and Miracle Doctors Saturday here on KPLC-TV from 10:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. for the CMN Telethon. Last year, you helped raise $255,000 for the Children's Miracle Network - money that stayed right here in Southwest Louisiana.