Nathan Benson didn't slow down long enough Thursday afternoon to taste the special soft-serve treat he'd just created. But that's a good thing for the 3-year-old boy whose physical development was slowed by months of chemotherapy. He ran here and...
Nathan Benson didn't slow down long enough Thursday afternoon to taste the special soft-serve treat he'd just created.
But that's a good thing for the 3-year-old boy whose physical development was slowed by months of chemotherapy. He ran here and there in the Dairy Queen on South Columbia Road, stopping for a while to hug Mom and Dad, Valerie and Robert Benson, or to chase his younger brother, Matthew, 2.
Nathan, his parents, his brother and his sister, Emily, 15 months, and his grandparents, Ray and Mary Benson, were part of Dairy Queen's Miracle Treat Day, where the restaurant donates profits from Blizzard sales to the Children's Miracle Network.
Nathan was diagnosed last year with a Wilm's tumor, a rare form of cancer affecting the kidneys, which impacts about 500 children per year. He finished treatment in Fargo's MeritCare Children's Hospital in July. The hospital is the region's Children's Miracle Network hospital.
The family has come a long way since last October, when Valerie and Robert thought Nathan was suffering from the flu or a cold. But Nathan became sicker and sicker.
"We took him in, and when the doctor lifted up (Nathan's) shirt to feel his abdomen, he caught the mass," Valerie said.
Nathan was flown to the children's hospital in St. Paul, then transferred to the one in Minneapolis. It was there he was diagnosed with cancer.
The cancer had spread from his kidney to his lungs, severely limiting his ability to breathe, Valerie said.
"He had a mass in his chest the size of a grapefruit" that had to be removed, she said.
"That was the hardest night we've lived," Valerie said. "They told us he would have two hours to live," Robert added.
The tumors were successfully removed, but the nightmare wasn't over.
Nathan wasn't eating, and he was losing weight. His weight stabilized at about 27 pounds. Right now, he weighs 40 pounds, though he continues to gain nutrients through a tube directly affixed to his stomach, near his belly-button.
For now, the biggest trial in the Benson family is potty-training, as Nathan gets back to a home routine that includes doctor visits every three months.
"We never thought we would make it to that," Valerie said, watching as her two boys played. "He's our miracle."
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