Save the Cheeks!

AJ in the hospital

AJ’s first surgery went as well as could be hoped.

On his 2nd birthday, AJ was diagnosed with a brain tumor. This website was designed by friends – with love – to enable the Hock family to let us join them in their fight against cancer.

In early September 2014, MeiLani Hock noticed that in addition to sporadic vomiting, her son AJ kept falling over while playing with his older brother and sister. She asked AJ to walk to her. Instead of running to her arms, his veered sideways and only made it two steps before he fell and with his big cheeks and beautiful smile he laughed like it was all a big joke… But MeiLani knew something was terribly wrong.

AJ - doctor & MRI (Small)

AJ’s first MRI revealed a large brain tumor.

On September 11, an MRI revealed AJ has a two-inch by one-inch ependymoma tumor at the base of AJ’s brain. Even before the MRI was finished, the technician called the doctor to let him know he was sending the images over immediately. When he finally came out from the MRI, he handed MeiLani and Michael the phone and said, “Your doctor would like to talk to you.”

The doctor said, “Sometimes a mother’s intuition is more powerful than any medical degree. We can admit you right now to our hospital here, but if it were my child, I would drive the 20 minutes to Duke Medical Center. I will call ahead and have them waiting when you arrive.”

Aj in the machine (Small)

AJ under the incredible proton therapy machine.

At Duke, AJ was immediately admitted and scheduled for surgery the following day… his second birthday. The doctors were able to remove 99.7% of the tumor, but ependymoma is aggressive. The doctors told the Hocks that AJ still had a long road ahead of him and they referred him to the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville, Florida for seven weeks of cutting-edge treatment.

The prognosis for cases like AJ’s is a 60% likelihood for living a full life. His doctors say that if this had happened 10 years ago, his success rate would be less than 10%. Thanks to this new form of proton radiation treatment, the success rate has drastically improved, but it’s still not great.

We hope and pray we are in that 60%, but we know that the Lord has a plan for each of us and our families.

Explore this site to learn more about our efforts to Save The Cheeks: