Amazing Kids, Amazing Stories: Hudson's Story
When Madison's most popular morning radio team - Connie and Fish of Z104 - began hosting the 39-hour Cure Kids Cancer Radiothon in 2005, childhood cancer was not something Connie or Fish had previously spent much time thinking about.
"We both love kids, but neither of us are parents," says Connie. "When we started talking to these kids and their families on the air about what they have been through and what they deal with, it really opened our eyes - not only about childhood cancer, but about how much Fish and I could make a difference."
What a difference it has been! More than $670,000 was raised from listeners during the three-day 2007 Radiothon to help support patients and families through better clinic facilities and more pediatric cancer research at the UW.
"It really is an awesome experience," adds Fish. "We give everything we have for three full days and yet Connie and I still can't begin to imagine what these beautiful kids and their moms, dads, brothers and sisters go through in the hospital and at home."
Consider the story of one mom, Elizabeth LePine of Sun Prairie.
"My 3-year-old son, Hudson, had fractured his leg in early April 2006," Elizabeth remembers. "A few weeks later, a fever started coming and going, which was followed by an ear infection. Another week passed, and he suddenly started tripping in the yard and not putting any weight on his leg.
"That afternoon," she says, "I'm driving Hudson to the clinic, with the Z104 Radiothon on in the car. They repeated X-rays and blood tests, which just one month earlier had seemed to rule out cancer."
Elizabeth, her husband Andy, and Hudson spent that evening at home, waiting.
"It was 9:22 p.m. when the phone rang," Elizabeth says. "I answered it and our doctor said, 'Mrs. LePine, Hudson's blood work came back and we think he might have leukemia. I'm sorry to tell you this over the phone, but you need to come to the hospital right away.'"
A diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia was confirmed the next day.
"I remember crying in the car for those families on the radio," says Elizabeth, "and just seven hours later, we became one of those families."
Hudson's cancer treatment will continue until 2009, when he begins kindergarten. He also has received extensive treatment for a blood clot on his brain. Despite it all, his prognosis is good.
"Hudson has been through a lot, but he has made an excellent recovery and is doing well," says Kenneth De Santes, MD, Hudson's UW Health oncologist. "He is a very sweet and smart little boy and has been a pleasure to care for."