THE STRONGEST BOY WE KNOW
Courage, determination, and faith will overcome any obstacle set before you. Courage makes you stronger. Determination takes you further. Faith makes you limitless.
BORN A FIGHTER
Alex was always a fighter, even before he was born. He was a high-risk pregnancy and doctors thought he would be premature. Instead, he made it beyond his initial due date and was a New Year’s Day baby. Although he was born visually impaired and with a cleft lip and pallet, he was our miracle.
When he had his first cleft pallet surgery at three months old it was discovered that he had hypertension due to stenosis of his renal arteries. He immediately underwent surgery to bypass the stenosed artery and ultimately spend three weeks in the PICU at Albany Medical Center. Not knowing what the outcome would be, Alex was prayed over and baptized by three priests...ensuring his protection and giving us the first indication that he was truly in God’s hands.
For the next 10 years he had a regimen of three different medications given twice daily to control his blood pressure (BP). We had a portable BP machine to monitor his BP and we had to be careful about heat and over-exertion. At age 10 one of his kidneys had atrophied so much it had to be removed; and amazingly his BP normalized and he no longer required medication.
DIAGNOSED WITH TESTICULAR CANCER
Throughout his life Alex had multiple surgeries to repair his cleft lip and pallet, orthopedic surgery to correct a length discrepancy of his legs, eye surgery, and reconstructive surgery on his jaw. Overall he has had 27 surgeries, multiple scans, EKGs, MRIs, two blood transfusions, genetic testing, vision tests, and breathing tests. He had two sets of braces and wore a pallet expander for a year. And through it all he never complained.
Then, in September of 2018, he was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer. He had orchiectomy surgery then began four rounds of chemotherapy. However, after two rounds of chemo he developed a pulmonary embolism in his lung and pneumonia. He spent 13 days in Ellis Hospital overcoming a grave situation. At one point we were told that he may need to be intubated, and if that happened he may not come out of it. But he did and then he completed chemotherapy. His numbers looked great and we thought he was in the clear, but the tumors returned. In March of 2019 he had a tumor removed from his neck. He went through that surgery easily.
On May 22 he went to Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC for a very difficult but necessary surgery; Retroperitoneal lymph node dissection (RPLND). In addition, he had sections of his liver removed. During the surgery he went into heart failure and was brought to New York Presbyterian Hospital across the street. There he spent two weeks in the ICU, going nine days without food or water. It was by far the worst challenge Alex faced and the most difficult time we had as a family.
Three times we were told he may not pull through. Yet he survived each time, baffling doctors and reminding us that it is God’s timing and Alex still has work to do.
ALEX WAS ALWAYS DETERMINED TO SUCCEED
Alex attended schools in Niskayuna, NY, Boston, Spartanburg, SC, and finally New York City, where he passed the required Regents exams to graduate (a year earlier than we expected). He attended a summer program in Manhattan and a program for the blind in Portland, ME. Five different times during his educational pursuits he was residential (only coming home for the weekends). The first time he was residential began one day after his 11th birthday when he went off to Perkins School for the Blind outside Boston.
Despite his visual impairment, Alex played flag football in Niskayuna and was one of only two kids who never missed a single practice or a game. He actually cried after the last game when he realized the season was over. He played basketball and flag football with the Challenger Program in East Greenbush, once breaking his foot in a game but not telling us until a few weeks later. He wrestled, ran track, and played goalball for the South Caroline School for the Deaf and Blind (SCSDB), bringing him to schools in Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, and Florida. Alex was named the Blind Male Athlete of the Year in 2014. He also ran track for the NY Institute for the Deaf and Blind before graduating in 2016.
As a child he rode a bike, played video games and played basketball with his cousins, and "competed" with his sister Ashley on the monkey bars and swimming. He even had a go-kart that topped out at 70 MPH. He crashed his bike a few times (once cracking his helmet), ran into a tree which required internal and external stitches in his leg, and had numerous bruises...but he never limited himself!
So, whenever you are labeled with limitations and told you cannot do something, think of Alex. If you are feeling down, overwhelmed, or defeated, think of Alex. When you are suffering from an ailment, fight through the pain and carry on.
Be a warrior like Alex and NEVER STOP FIGHTING!