Soccer lover kicks cancer


SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Nolan Hicks loves soccer.

It’s the first thing he says about himself. He doesn’t mention much about school, or video games, or the cancer he once battled.

But Nolan will talk about Lionel Messi, the Argentine forward he admires and the Barcelona soccer team he plays for. Nolan, a mild-mannered and polite 12-year-old, plays year-round in a club league as a forward and right back. When holidays interrupt his practice schedule, he anxiously juggles a soccer ball in the living room — his record is 64 consecutive juggles — or watches videos of new moves he plans to master.

But there was a period when cancer benched him — but only for a while.

Nolan discovered a lump on the upper part of his left leg as he was beginning fourth grade. It didn’t seem serious as first; his parents thought perhaps it was an inflamed lymph node.

The first test revealed the growing bump on Nolan Hicks’ leg was composed of a rare soft-tissue cancer, synovial sarcoma. According to the Libby Shriver Sarcoma Initiative, only one to three individuals in 1 million are diagnosed with this disease. Only a few weeks later, Nolan underwent surgeries to remove the growth, followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

But it couldn’t keep him off his feet. Nolan tried to kick a soccer ball around as much as he could, even as the family spent six or seven months nearly living in the hospital. When he wasn’t battling treatments, he faced fevers and infections as a result of his suppressed immune system.

And that’s where the family was formally introduced to Dance Marathon. The organization provided parking passes and medication reimbursements to help alleviate the stress on the Hicks family.

After the treatments subsided, the doctors found Nolan to be cancer free. Around the one-year anniversary of this milestone, Nolan attended his first Big Event, at which he met the members of Dance Marathon who raised the money that helped support his family.

“We’re big supporters of Dance Marathon and very excited to support them because they do so much to really support the families and the kids who are receiving treatment,” his mother, Marie Hicks, said. “The energy that the college students bring, whether it’s at the Big Event or just in anything else they do, is a really great gift to families wherever you’re at. Sometimes it can be difficult, especially in the midst of treatment, to have good days, so it’s really nice to have support from all sorts of direction.”

Nolan and his two younger brothers rate it up there with Disneyland, Marie Hicks said.

“I like it a lot; it’s really fun,” Nolan said.

But even after the cancer has passed, Dance Marathon continues to support Nolan as he travels to Camp Hearth Connection, a special camp for oncology patients and their siblings, in the summer.

This year will be his fourth camp.

On Friday, Nolan and his siblings will return to the IMU to meet up with families and the dancers for their third Big Event.

“We’re just very grateful for all of their enthusiasm and effort that they put into the whole Big Event,” Marie Hicks said.

In today's issue:

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.