| Aug 08, 2014
Since finding a hard mass in the abdomen of their 5-month-old son Pierce on June 16, Alex and his wife Kiley Watson have been working tirelessly to find the best care and treatment for their son. Alex Watson, though no relation, is a sales associate at the Watson Realty Corp. Atlantic Beach office.
On Aug. 4, the Watsons arrived in New York City at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Pierce met his doctors the following day. They began testing and are anxiously awaiting all of the results.
“It is so hard to know what is best, especially when we’ve been told that if we don’t get it right the first time we are asking for a ‘death sentence’,” Kiley wrote on Facebook when the Watsons decided to get a second opinion on treatment.
Days after originally discovering the mass, the family was informed it was a malignant tumor, later diagnosed as a neuroblastoma. Pierce had his first surgery June 24, to remove the tumor, which also required the removal of a kidney and several lymph nodes.
On July 9, Pierce began chemotherapy at Wolfson Children’s Hospital. The family was notified the next day Pierce’s cancer was very aggressive, dropping his chance of survival to about 50 percent and increasing the amount of treatment needed.
Family and friends were heartbroken, along with the family, following this diagnosis. The news hit extremely close to home for Geneva Maxwell, a close friend of Alex and Kiley and mother of two children around the age of the Watsons’ boys.
“Many lives have been touched and changed by this cute, precious baby boy,” said Maxwell. “Life’s problems truly didn’t even seem like problems when we thought about their [the Watsons’] situation and what they were going through. We prayed and asked God to use us in any way he saw fit.”
Maxwell set up a GoFundMe account for the family and got wristbands manufactured to sell, with the proceeds going to the family.
After receiving the news about the aggressiveness of Pierce’s condition, the treatment plan and overall outlook for his future, Alex and Kiley decided to get a second opinion by reaching out to Sloan-Kettering in New York City.
The doctors at Sloan-Kettering were not sure the cancer was amplified and aggressive after looking over the test results from Wolfson.
“This is absolutely crazy to us,” Kiley explained. “One group of doctors is telling us if we don’t do the most intense treatment possible for him, he will die; and the other is saying he may possibly not need any treatment.”
Pierce’s oncologist at Wolfson then began to question whether the cancer was aggressive. One test showed that the cancer was amplified and aggressive, while a second test said it was not.
Pierce’s treatment was put on hold until the family could get more definitive answers. Alex, Kiley and Pierces’ oncologists were all puzzled that the same test could bring different results. After sending out samples again, the results came back the same, with one showing amplified and the other showing non-amplified.
The Watsons do not want to put Pierce through chemotherapy unless it is absolutely needed. They have read of horror stories about what chemotherapy can do to children so young, including going deaf and infertility among many other possible side effects.
“He only has one kidney,” noted Alex. “All of the treatment would be processed through that one kidney.”
Although the hospital bills are the last thing on their minds right now, the bills have inevitably been piling up. The Watsons got approved for government health insurance in late July. Alex is struggling to work and provide for his family while watching over Pierce and his brother Gage, who turns three Aug. 22.
Support for the family has been overwhelming since the diagnosis and throughout their struggles to decide what treatment is best for Pierce.
Family friend, Kate Pearce, is organizing a benefit dinner and silent auction for Pierce on Aug. 8 at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Riverside. Between dinner tickets and auction proceeds, they are hoping to raise over $10,000 for the family.
“We wanted to be able to do something substantial and knew we couldn’t do it ourselves,” said Pearce.
The Watson Realty Corp. Chaffee Road office will be a sponsor of this event. Victoria St. Clair, a sales associate at the Chaffee Road office has been actively involved in raising money for the fundraiser.
“It is just heartbreaking to know what this family is going through,” St. Clair said. “You can’t be prepared for something like this and I wanted to do anything I could to help out.”
Many Watson Realty Corp. offices have gotten involved in fundraising and supporting the family.
“I am so grateful to work for such an amazing company that cares about its associates not only from an administrative level but on an individual level as well,” said Alex. “I am receiving phone calls, letters and emails of support from everyone.”
There are other ways to support Pierce and his family. Donations can be made to The Watson’s Family Fund on GoFundMe at http://www.gofundme.com/au5m5s. For information on other events, visit prayforpierce.com.