Dieric was a typical 13-year-old who was living life and trying to survive middle school, when his mom started to worry about him and what he may be getting into. His mother noticed that his stomach was growing – she was worried that he was pregnant. He assured his mom that he was fine - he wasn’t sure why his stomach was so distended and uncomfortable. He was positive he wasn’t pregnant but was confused about what was happening to his body. He did not expect this “stomach thing” to get out of control. Thirteen-year-olds go through myriad physical changes. So he didn’t give this chance much thought until one night when Dieric tried to roll over onto his stomach and experienced excruciating pain. Dieric said that it was quickly resolved when he changed his sleeping position.
The following morning, Dieric mentioned this pain to his mother and she was not as calm as he expected her to be. She hauled him to the emergency room for a check-up – using ARKids to pay for a visit that she otherwise would not have been able to afford. After running a few tests, the doctor had a diagnosis - Dieric had ovarian cancer.
The news was painful - and a lot to process – but there was no time for processing. The doctors whisked him into an operating room and removed a tumor the size of a football. The tumor explained what had caused his mysterious extended tummy. Dieric’s mother had no idea that cancer could become an issue for her 13-year-old. She and Dieric are both grateful that Medicaid was there for them when they needed it. They were able to depend on Medicaid as they worked to save Dieric’s life, and they found Medicaid to be dependable in providing them access to the services they needed.
Dieric hadn’t known that morning, when he woke up, that he wouldn’t be returning to school for the next five months. He didn’t realize that hanging with friends and doing homework would now be replaced with an intense round of chemotherapy wherein he would receive three different chemo drugs every three days. He wasn’t prepared for it – but he didn’t have any other choice. No one does if they want to beat cancer.
But Dieric is intense and intelligent. He used every resource afforded to him and his family – and he used logic when all else failed. Dieric believes in making your own luck. He didn’t fall behind in school – he worked very hard at conquering both cancer and his schoolwork while he was at home recovering. And in doing so, he was a blazing success! A few short years later, Dieric graduated from high school early, and cancer-free!
According to Dieric, beating cancer is the easy part. Living through the havoc that cancer wreaks on one’s body is the day-to-day challenge that he is still working to master. He has had to make some changes and adjustments to accommodate his post-cancer maladies. One of those dreams was to become a plastic surgeon to help people like him, who are transitioning. Fortunately, he moved easily to a different dream. He is now a model and an actor; as well as a spokesperson for cancer survivors. He holds deep appreciation for both Arkansas’ Medicaid program and *Heroes & Angels, a non-profit whose mission is to provide non-medical assistance to families affected by childhood cancer. He is celebrating his 7th anniversary of being cancer-free in a few days – all thanks to Medicaid, Heroes & Angels, and his family who have supported him through everything.
*Heroes and Angels - Heroes and Angels Corp.’s mission is to provide non-medical assistance to families affected by childhood cancer, and to military families in need. Also to provide funding to organizations that research the causes and cures of childhood cancer. Read more at http://heroesandangelscorp.org.