Through it all Ronald Hedrick just keeps smiling.
The 25-year-old from the Lindenwood section of Howard Beach has been battling a very rare and aggressive form of liver cancer for the past three years, and as he faces his fourth surgery, he says, “I never really let it get to me.”
It was “a miracle” that doctors discovered Hedrick’s cancer in the first place, said his family.
He hadn’t been feeling well, had bouts of nausea, he said, and was slightly overweight.
“They [the doctors] figured they’d run a CAT scan and found something on my liver,” he told The Courier.
A biopsy revealed the diagnosis, and “it’s been nothing but a fight since then.”
“They said it was a very rare cancer at my age with a perfectly healthy liver. The doctors said it was probably something in my genes or cells.”
“It’s the hardest thing in the world – he was always healthy,” said mom Carol. “His case is like a one-in-a-million. It’s not known in the U.S. in men his age.
“His last surgery was in February and the doctors tell us it [the cancer] will keep coming back faster and faster. Right now we are trying to find a holistic doctor to take his case.”
Still, said Hedrick, “I want to keep a positive attitude.”
“I like to think of myself as mentally strong, so I never really let it get to me,” said Hedrick, who had been going to medical assistant school at the time of his diagnosis.
But because of his treatment, he had to put school on hold.
“It was hard for me to go to school when I was getting tests every other day and going through surgeries,” said the avid sports fan (he counts the New York Jets and Rangers as his favorite teams and loves the Yankees).
His parents, Carol and Ron, as well as his sister Linda, niece, Briana and brother Nicholas have been a source of strength, said Hedrick.
“His spirits are amazing,” Carol told The Courier. “I thank God for every second with my son and that we have an amazing family.”
His godmother, Doreen Lombardo-Campisi, “will be organizing fundraisers to help defray the cost of using a holistic provider, which is not covered by any insurance carriers,” according to the web site she launched, Helpingronald.blogspot.com.
As for the future, Hedrick said that he wants to return to school, maybe take online courses – and become a member of the NYPD.
“I am happy every day,” he said. “Yes, I will deal with it [the cancer], but I’m not going to let it rule my life.”
If you would like to make “recommendations, suggestions or would like to attend or help organize a fundraiser(s) or benefit(s) or make a contribution” visit Helpingronald.blogspot.com.