Four-year-old boys seem to be naturally drawn to superheroes. Desmond was just starting to learn about superheroes when he was diagnosed with orbital rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer that develops in the eye socket.
He had plenty of opportunities to act the part and fight the bad guys. He went to every chemotherapy appointment and radiation treatment wearing a cape and usually a mask. His nurses and doctors learned to dodge imaginary freeze guns and ask for the “secret password” whenever they needed to know his birth date. There were days when the “villains” put up a good fight, but in the end they were no match for Desmond. He was declared to show no evidence of the disease after five months of treatment.
“As parents, we never wanted to see a superhero live at our house but rather just a healthy little boy,” Desmond’s mom says. “Sometimes superheroes cry, and throw up, and lose their hair, and get angry because they don’t understand what’s happening and they don’t feel good. I feared the sunny, cheerful boy I had known was gone forever, but he slowly and surely came back. He wasn’t the same, and neither were we, but we were all stronger. Just like a real superhero.”