Connor Cruse was a rambunctious four-year-old boy who loved Bob the Builder, Power Rangers, swimming and fighting with light sabers, toy guns, sticks and anything else he could get his hands on. In other words, Connor was just a normal when on May 15, 2005 he was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma. Tumors were found around Connor’s spine, behind his heart, and there was a nine-centimeter mass in his abdomen. Cancer had spread to the bones in Connor’s legs, pelvis, ribs and shoulders. The prognosis was bleak. Doctors didn’t hold much hope for Connor’s long-term survival, but they couldn’t know Connor was so brave and strong.
Just imagine fighting a fierce battle lasting four years that included more than 200 nights in the hospital, 14 surgeries, 40 blood transfusions, 25 rounds of chemo, two bone marrow transplants and countless painful procedures with visits to specialists in Dallas, Houston, Boston, New York and even Guatemala. Connor didn’t complain. He was a valiant warrior with incredible faith. He was a fighter to the very end. His motto was, “Be brave and believe in Jesus.”
Even as Connor fought for his life, his parents Tait and Joy Cruse were touched by how cancer affected other families they came in contact with during Connor’s treatments. The Cruse’s saw the toll childhood cancer took on families, both emotionally and financially. Tait and Joy promised Connor they would do everything they could to keep other children from having to go through what Connor faced. So, the Cruses set up the TeamConnor Cancer Foundation in 2007 to help fund childhood cancer research.
Cancer kills more children each year than cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, asthma and AIDS combined, yet the National Cancer Institute allocates only three percent of its budget to pediatric cancer.
Connor lost his four-year battle with cancer on July 10, 2009. But TeamConnor continues to fight on in honor of Connor Cruse.
Over the past several years, TeamConnor has raised $1 million in its mission to find cures for childhood cancers. And the fight continues. All because of one inspirational little boy with a warrior’s heart.
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