OKLAHOMA CITY – When you open the Dehdarani family album, you’ll see picture after picture of twin boys in loving poses.
Six-year-olds Elijah and Emilio have grown in lockstep, always together, and always supportive of each other.
A couple years ago, this Oklahoma City family’s life changed dramatically when Elijah began having severe headaches.
His mother Selene recalls, “He started waking up, saying ‘my head hurts my head hurts’ and something was just not right about it.”
Selene Dehdarani knew she had to find answers and pushed for more extensive testing.
“They did a CT scan,” she says, “and they said it would be a couple days before the called us back. They called us fifteen minutes later after we left and said we needed to come back immediately.”
The diagnosis was Pilocytic Astrocytoma, a benign tumor that was in a very tricky place: his brain stem.
“That’s what we call the high dollar area,” says PA Theresa Gavula from Jimmy Everest Cancer Center.
She says surgeons removed most of the tumor, but couldn’t get it all.
“It’s a place where we don’t want to do anything to hurt good tissue because we could cause problems,” says Gavula.
Elijah had to learn to walk and talk again after surgery.
He’s receiving chemotherapy to ensure those remaining cancer cells can’t grow.
“Once we’ve done chemotherapy, we can arrest it and cause it to go into remission. We hope he’ll never have problems again with it all.”
Elijah’s dad, Nikho was thrilled with the response the tumor had to chemo.
“The first MRI showed it shrunk, which was a miracle. They just wanted it to stop growing” says Nikho.
“I dream for him to have a normal life, the normalest he can have” agrees mother Selene.
Elijah has returned to the T-ball field where his brother plays with ease.
He’s working hard to improve his strength and coordination with his brother’s encouragement and his T-ball team’s help.
At a recent practice they gave him a ball they all signed to honor his progress.
His coach leads them in a cheer and says, “Your team wants you to know how proud of you we are. You’ve worked really hard, and we’re proud of your effort.”
Elijah’s team at Jimmy Everest Cancer Center is also rooting for Elijah, and hoping this hard-working six-year-old can keep swinging for the fences.
If you’d like to help kids like Elijah fight cancer, consider donating to JECFriends.org