Phoenix was a naturally gifted musician. He taught himself how to read sheet music and played the saxophone and piano. He was also intrigued by geography; particularly maps, cities, populations and interesting facts about each state. His future was bright, but cancer didn’t care. He was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in September of this past year.
Phoenix’s entire family was greatly impacted. Being from Minot, his mom, Maranda, and two little sisters, lived four and a half hours from the children’s hospital and cancer center. From the diagnosis on, they spent nearly all of their time living at the hospital or Ronald McDonald house in Fargo. “We were very displaced; however, cancer and treatment also brought the most beautiful people into our lives. The kids and I really got to see the good side of humanity and I’m so glad we got to experience that,” said Maranda.
Maranda also feels that cancer brought out strengths in herself and her kids including being able to talk about their feelings, being more present with one another and being selfless. She continued, “We all made sacrifices to try to save Phoenix’s life.” Sadly, an infection ravaged his body and with an immune system that was depleted by chemotherapy, his body was not able to fight it. He passed away on February 4, 2020 at the age of 11.
Phoenix was a gift to all and was taken too soon but this uncaring, nondiscriminatory monster that we call pediatric cancer. His mom said, “I miss his voice and his resilience. He was intubated the last four weeks of his life, so I never got to hear him speak again. And his resilience throughout his entire life, not just during cancer, was beyond inspiring. I drew a lot of strength from watching him overcome so many different obstacles.”