Connor Cruse was a rambunctious four-year-old boy who loved Bob the Builder, Power Rangers, swimming, fighting with light sabers, toy guns, sticks, and anything else he could get his hands on. In other words, Connor was just a normal little boy when he was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma on May 15, 2005. 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; however, they didn’t know Connor was so brave and strong.
Just imagine fighting a fierce, four-year battle 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. The Cruse family traveled with Connor 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 parent’s Joy and Tait Cruse were touched by how cancer affected other families they came in contact with during Connor’s treatments. They saw the emotional and financial toll childhood cancer took on families. Joy and Tait promised Connor they would do everything they could to keep other children from having to go through what Connor faced. The Cruse family established the TeamConnor Cancer Foundation in 2008 to help fund childhood cancer research.
Connor lost his four-year battle with cancer on July 10, 2009; but, TeamConnor continues to fight on in honor of Connor Cruse.
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.
TeamConnor has raised more than $3 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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