NY Nurse Helping Save Others to Honor Brother Who Died From Rare Brain Tumor
Zachary Dievendorf lived for 13 years. His memory lives on through his sister who became a nurse in Buffalo in his honor.
Zachary died from a rare brain tumor. But his family is grateful. Grateful they got 7 extra precious months thanks to St Jude Children's Research Hospital.
It all started in May of 2008 when Zachary started to feel dizzy and weak. A few days later the family was on their way to St Jude where Zachary was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a rare tumor on the brain stem.
"He started chemo and radiation treatment immediately," said his sister Sarah. "He was there for 6 weeks."
Zachary Returns Home
The survival rate for Zachary's form of cancer is less than 10% and most only survive a few weeks after diagnosis.
After 6 weeks of treatment at St Jude, Zachary was able to come back home to Buffalo.
"We even went on a Make-a-Wish trip to St Thomas. It was a really nice time we got to spend with him and our family."
Zachary Loses Battle
Things started to go downhill for Zachary in October. "He fell asleep on Christmas Eve," recalled Sarah. "We were able to spend time with him on Christmas day. He wasn't able to speak much but I remember him holding me and stroking my hair as I cried on his chest knowing that he was going to pass away."
Zachary passed the next morning surrounded by his family.
Beating the Odds
Zachary may have passed away but he beat the odds. He lived seven and a half months, a lot longer than the two weeks most live after getting diagnosed.
"They were the best and worst months of our lives," said Sarah. "We're just so grateful for St Jude and all the time they gave us. We were so fortunate to be with my brother when he took his last breath. He knew how much we loved him and we knew how much he loved us."
St Jude Family
St Jude may not have been able to save Zachary but his family is thankful for everything St Jude gave them.
"You feel so welcomed, loved, and taken care of. It's just so happy there. You won't see a child crying or worry on parents' faces. They don't have to worry about bills. They don't have to pay them. All they are focused on is being with their child and taking care of them. It's such a blessing to have been a part of their family and always be a St Jude family member."
2024 marks 15 years since Zachary has been gone but Sarah continues to keep his memory alive and raise awareness for the tumor that took his life.
"There is no cure. They are still researching. They don't know much about it even after all these years. I'll keep fighting for every kid until there is no pediatric cancer."
In addition to raising awareness, Sarah has made it her mission to help others.
"I remember feeling so helpless when my brother was sick and all I wanted to do was take away his pain. It's a way that I have coped and dealt with the grief and loss of my brother is to become a nurse."
Be a Partner in Hope
You can help save St Jude in its mission to make sure no kids die in the dawn of life by becoming a Partner in Hope during our Country Cares Radiothon, presented by Drain Masters.
Just call 800-995-5257 or donate online at St Jude.
Thank You Gifts
To thank you for supporting St Jude Children's Research Hospital and becoming a Partner in Hope you'll have the honor of joining the country community with a 'This Shirt Saves Live ' t-shirt AND a We Won't Stop hoodie. The first 100 Partners in Hope will get their choice of 2 vouchers for any Utica Comets hockey game this season or Hoffman Car Wash. One lucky person will win tickets to see Brooks & Dunn at SPAC.
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Gallery Credit: Credit - Polly McAdams
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Gallery Credit: Credit - Polly McAdams