Dying boy, 2, will be parents' best man: 'We want Logan's story out there'
Pennsylvania couple Christine Swidorsky and Sean Stevenson are getting married on Saturday, but the occasion will be tinged with sadness: Their dying two-year-old son, Logan, will serve as the couple's best man.
Logan has been sick for the majority of his short life, having been diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia in December 2011. He suffers from Fanconi anemia, an incredibly rare genetic disease that often results in cancer. After two years of further diagnoses, extended hospital stays and surgeries, doctors say Logan's time is coming quickly to an end. "On Tuesday, we went into the doctor's office...he told us Logan had one to three weeks left," a tearful Swidorsky told TODAY.com. "We'd been planning a wedding — we were starting to look for halls, but we decided to have it now so Logan could be a part of it, so he could be in the pictures — so it could be something our family did together."
Couple's dying son, 2, to be their best manPlay Video
Watch: Does this 3-month-old baby say 'I love you'?
New car seat alerts you if baby is left in car
Experts: Babies overtreated for reflux, other maladies
Are firstborns smarter? New study debunks beliefs about birth order
Swidorsky and Stevenson met in 2007, soon after Christine's mother died of breast cancer. "He changed my life," Swidorsky said. Swidorsky had a daughter, Isabella, from a previous relationship. "Sean really took Isabella in as his own," Swidorsky said. Though Logan was born prematurely in October 2010, and suffered complications, for the first year of his life, he was a relatively healthy baby. When Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh diagnosed him with acute myeloid leukemia, Swidorsky had already suspected something was wrong. "He would bruise so easily, even when I just put him down on the changing table. When you have leukemia, your fingernails turn white…His face, his eyes, I just knew something was wrong with Logan," she said.
Logan underwent aggressive chemotherapy and had a stem cell transplant last year. Earlier this year, doctors found a tumor growing on one of Logan's kidneys, and had to remove it.
After the operation and rounds of chemotherapy, Logan celebrated a few weeks of being cancer-free. "He was eating solid foods, he seemed like he was doing well," Swidorsky said. "I said to Sean, 'maybe this time things will be right.'" But on a family trip to Disney World, he became seriously ill. "We must have been there four hours, and he was so unbelievably sick," Swidorsky said. She and Logan were flown by a medical plane back to Pittsburgh, and he was once again admitted to Children's Hospital. "Since he (was diagnosed with leukemia), he's spent very little time at home," Swidorsky said.
At a doctor's visit last week, another mass, located in the same spot as his removed kidney, was found. Doctors said further treatment would cause more harm than good. "Logan never gave up on us, and we weren't going to give up on our son," Swidorsky said. Doctors advised she take him home. "At this point," they told her, "we would only doing things to him, not for him. We just want him to be comfortable now."
And so, Swidorsky and Stevenson, who also have a one-year-old daughter, decided to move up their wedding, which was originally planned for June 2014. Just over 100 guests are expected, at the couple's house in Jeannette, PA. "We wanted to have it at home, so if it became too much for Logan, he could lie in bed, and we could be here with him," Swidorsky said. The town has come together to help, sending prayers, donations, and goods and services. "There's been so much support," Swidorsky said. "Just today, Sean picked up a case of wine and 48 beautiful wine glasses...I didn't have a dress, and my sister-in-law gave me a wedding dress."
Swidorsky says her family's primary goal right now is to make Logan's last few weeks happy ones. "He loves to dance," Swidorsky said. "He loves Elvis Presley. Every time Elvis comes on, he just starts dancing. And he loves spaghetti." Most of all, though, Swidorsky, who says she's inspired by other parents of children with cancer, wants her son's story to be told. "We want Logan's story out there," Swidorsky said. "I brought him into this world, and I will be with him when he enters into a new life. I am thankful for every single prayer."
The joy a wedding brings isn't easing the difficult road ahead for their family. "Every night before I go to sleep, I cry so hard," Swidorsky said. "But I don't want Logan to see it, because sick as he is, he'll still wipe away my tears."