Ben’s life changed forever in August 2009. He went to the doctor for a wound checkup and came out with a cancer diagnosis. This five-year-old boy, who just wanted to be a normal kid getting dirty and playing outside, soon became involved with hi-tech medicine and a disease his family barely understood.
As Ben battled his illness, he and his family were flooded with kindness and caring that they could never imagine, including baskets of goodies, gift cards, bikes, and “a group of angels from Make-A-Wish.” They quickly realized they weren’t alone. When Make-A-Wish® stepped in to help grant a magical wish for Ben, he didn’t take long to decide that he wanted to be a cowboy.
Excited to be focusing on something other than IVs and chemotherapy, Ben and his family made the trip to Sweet Grass Ranch in Billings, Montana. Each day, the family woke up to the tranquility of the mountains and fell asleep to the sounds of a summer night. They were treated so well by the Sweet Grass Ranch employees, and Ben was a star from the moment he arrived. His favorite part was riding his horse. In no time, this young boy turned into a true cowboy – from his attire to his attitude. He loved getting up in the morning and watching the sun come up, enjoying a cowboy breakfast and wearing his boots. He also enjoyed the cool waters of Sweet Grass River on a very hot and dry afternoon. He had the time of his life!
Through this whole experience, Ben has become sensitive to others in pain. He was asked once what he remembers about being sick and said to his mom, “Oh, that beautiful cancer…” With much surprise, she asked why he said that, and he told her that because of his cancer, he met such wonderful people at the hospital. So through all the pain, sickness and struggle, this little boy reflected only on the positive.
Ben is still actively being monitored, but has been cancer free for three full years. He is growing, healthy, and using the courage he gained from his experience to conquer challenges in his life now.