You wouldn’t know it by looking at his sweet smile, but the last five years for a Flowery Branch boy have been extremely difficult.
Robert Hart was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in December of 2010.
“There are no words to describe the emotional tide that overcame my husband and me,” Robert’s mother Kasie Hart said. “The first few days were almost paralyzing.”
Robert spent the next few years receiving intense treatments at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. As his family thought treatments were coming to an end after about three years, their world changed again.
“We could see the end in our sights.” Hart said. “But during a routine spinal tap several cancer cells were detected in his spinal fluid. Another tap was ordered and more cells could be seen.”
Robert had relapsed. Doctors said it was an Isolated Central Nervous System relapse.
“To say we were devastated was an understatement.”
Hart told FOX 5’s Katie Muse her son has had a tough time since he's relapsed. Robert is currently in the last phase of protocol and will hopefully be done with it next summer. His mother said this final phase still requires daily chemotherapy and weekly trips to the hospital clinic. The treatments have caused a lot of side effects that will likely be life-long, according to Hart.
FOX 5 News learned about Robert’s story through photographer Brandy Angel, who has created a non-profit organization to help those in need by sharing their images and stories via social media. Last week, FOX 5 was the first to share a Kennesaw mother’s touching wedding photo that honored her angel son and Brandy Angel was the woman behind the now viral picture. Anna Bozman Thompson, the mother in the photo, is the one who put the Hart family in touch with Angel.
Thompson lost her 8-year-old son, Lake, in May to cancer, but before he passed away he formed a special bond with Robert. The two boys met in the hospital about a year-and-a-half ago.
“Their friendship was sweet and they could easily comfort each other while getting treatments just by sitting together. No words needed,” Hart told us.
Hart said her son took Lake’s death very hard. He wears a necklace to remember his friend and asks regularly how Anna Thompson is doing.
Angel said during the photo shoot Robert acted like a typical 11-year-old boy, picking on his younger siblings and laughing his head off about it. She said it’s crazy to think about the fact that this sweet boy is fighting for his life every day and is old enough to realize that.
“I can’t imagine what he feels having lost his best friend to cancer while fighting his own fight against it,” Angel said. “I just pray that people will rally together and get angry enough about the lack of funding childhood cancer is getting and be loud enough to be heard until they find a cure!”
Angel told us while snapping photos of him, Robert lit up when asked about Lake.
“This is what needs to be the topic on everyone’s minds, not Starbucks cups. Robert could be anyone’s child,” said Angel.
Next month, December, will mark five years of Robert undergoing treatment.
“Robert has a big heart who cares about everyone else. I don’t know what his future holds, but I do expect great things from this boy,” his mother said. Hart told us they don't have a GoFundMe account, but people can donate to CURE Childhood Cancer or the Rally Foundation in Robert's honor.
Please keep Robert in your thoughts and prayers! To learn more about his fight against cancer, click here.