CHOC Walk in the Park

Meet Our 2013 CHOC Walk in the Park Ambassador


From the voice of a grateful mother, Susan Hirsch shares Dean’s story in her own words.

“Just days after celebrating Dean’s 10th birthday, he started having rib pain. He is an extremely active little guy, so we assumed he had been run into while playing on the giant bouncer during his party.

When the pain began to worsen, we made our first trip to the ER. Over five week’s time, we took him to the ER. After numerous hospital stays and many blood tests, x-rays scans, biopsies, etc., our son, Dean was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma.

On that day, our worst fear became our new reality. A cancer diagnosis knocks the wind out of an adult, but when it’s your child, it is far beyond losing your breath. It is a deep ache in your heart, knowing what your child will soon have to endure.

Our vibrant, energetic, athletic boy, who was never sick in the past, the very same boy that had earned perfect attendance the year before, was stricken with cancer. Unbelievably, during the weeks before diagnosis, he was still out playing soccer and flag football, all the while, with a mass growing in his chest cavity! We had no idea our sweet boy was in for the fight of his life. Dean fought hard and with deep trust and unwavering faith. His faith in God persevered and proved that anything is possible!

Throughout Dean’s nine months of treatment, we found blessings every day. Some days, the blessing might have been as small as Dean feeling less pain, or as wonderful as Dean coming out of his shell and learning card tricks from nurse Debbie, or playing ping pong with nurse Matt on a makeshift bedside table. Our blessings were and continue to be innumerable and many, many were counted because of our beautiful CHOC family!

We have such grateful hearts for the amazing oncology doctors, nurses, staff and employees at CHOC. We learned very early on in this journey, that the total experience at CHOC encompasses true compassion and dedication to every single patient and family. We are blessed and extremely thankful for everyone at CHOC, for touching our hearts, holding our hands and for helping us through the most unbearable year of our lives. For without the diligence, empathy, compassion and dedication to patients, Dean may not have had such a successful outcome. We in Orange County are so lucky to have an amazing pediatric hospital in our own back yard.

Today, just one year later, instead of crying tears of mourning and extreme fear of the unknown (although, I don’t think this fear will ever completely go away), we are able to cry tears of joy, while watching Dean take to the soccer fields once again , and most recently, when he stepped back into the classroom amongst his friends. We are so proud of his accomplishments during this past year while enduring chemo. Dean managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA throughout the entire school year. He also collected hundreds of toys and gifts for his friends on the oncology floor at Christmas time; and after finishing his last round of chemo, he taught himself to ride a unicycle in just two hours. There is no doubt that Dean will succeed in anything he sets his mind to do. Dean’s perseverance, smile and happiness is the most amazing blessing, and for that, we are beyond thankful!

Over the past few months, Dean has been enjoying his new role as the 2013 CHOC Walk Ambassador. He had a blast recently, when he shot his CHOC Walk commercial while riding his unicycle. He is super excited to lead the thousands of walkers at the CHOC Walk this year. He cannot wait to see how much money his giant team of supporters will raise for CHOC again this year and to enjoy the fun day with all of his friends and family.”


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CHOC Children's - 1201 W. La Veta Avenue, Orange, CA. Phone: 714-997-3000. http://www.choc.org.