Three-year-old Trucker Dukes has been battling a rare form of cancer for most of his life.
The Today Show reports Trucker and his mother, Shauna, are staying in New York City long-term for Trucker’s cancer treatments, while the rest of their family remains at home in Hawaii. The toddler has Stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare, aggressive cancer of the nervous system, according to the report.
He “has endured multiple rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and life-threatening surgeries trying to rid his little body of this horrible disease,” according to Team Trucker, a website that shares the family’s journey and collects donations for their needs. “Just before Thanksgiving 2015, almost a year exactly after he was originally diagnosed, doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City discovered a new tumor in his brain.” That brain tumor also was successfully removed, and he currently is involved in a brain relapse trial and treatment in New York, according to the website.
During his stay in the big city, Trucker captured the hearts of some city firefighters. On May 31, the toddler will be named an honorary firefighter in New York City – something his mother called a “tragic blessing,” according to the report.
The toddler’s special relationship with the NYC firefighters began one day when there was a small kitchen fire near where he and his mother were staying, according to the report. Shauna said Trucker ran right up to fire Captain James Grismer and gave him a hug. Trucker’s dad also is a firefighter.
“I see this little boy excitedly walking towards me with his eyes aglow. I opened my arms and he basically climbed up and hugged me around the neck,” Grismer told KHON 2 news in Hawaii. “It was as if we’ve been friends/brothers for years.”
Trucker later visited Grismer’s fire station, road in one of their firetrucks and even had a birthday celebration with the firefighters, his mother said.
Shawna said their friendship with the firefighters has been a real blessing and encouragement, especially because they are so far away from home.
“This honor is so special to us because Trucker-Boy really thinks he’s a fireman,” Shauna told the Hawaii news station. “We are so blessed to have been adopted by the FDNY. Time and time again, I have watched big tough men fall in love with Trucker. It’s really something special.”
Friends are raising money so that Trucker’s dad and three older siblings can fly to New York to attend the special naming ceremony.
The story is a beautiful example of how these firefighters went above and beyond their duty and honored a little boy’s life even as he faces close calls with death. Their actions should serve as a reminder to society that every person’s life is valuable, no matter how long their life is.