Cody is a 17-year-old kid who is currently battling Stage 4 ALK Positive Renal Cell Carcinoma, a rare type of kidney cancer. Cody’s journey is nothing short of ordinary. Cody was a typical kid, who loves bowling and has accomplished a lot in the lanes as a 2-time title champ and is looking for #3. For the last year, Cody would get sick about every 4 months with flu-like symptoms. After months of taking him to the pediatric urgent care where they would tell Cody’s mom, Nicole, that it was just a viral infection, Cody’s parents decided that he needed more testing done. In May of 2022, Cody was taken to get blood work, with additional tests for Lyme Disease and other autoimmune diseases.
From here, Cody’s original pediatrician called Nicole, where he downplayed the results and also questioned if Cody was anemic. The doctor then told Nicole that Cody had a UTI and that anemia was very common for 17-year-old girls. Something was not adding up because Cody is a boy. Cody had an in-person doctor’s visit coming up, so Nicole planned on discussing these issues at this time. However, Cody’s appointment got pushed back one day. This saved Cody’s life.
Cody was now to be seen by a new doctor, who was a recent pediatric oncologist. Once the doctor opened up his reports, his face changed. They discussed that Cody could have a more severe form of anemia called thalassemia, which the doctor gave a new script for testing, as well as a script for a renal sonogram. The next day, Cody had his sonogram at 7 a.m. and by 1:30 p.m., the pediatrician called and asked for Nicole to come in to review the results. It sounded urgent, so the two decided to discuss it over the phone. The doctor told Nicole that the results were not good and that Cody had a large right kidney tumor, measuring approximately 15 CM.
“On June 5th, 2022, I had to sit Cody down and tell him about the tumor and the strong possibility of it being cancer. Cody’s reaction was the most amazing thing I have ever heard. He looked at us and said ‘Okay, I’m okay with losing a kidney. I only need one to live.' We were blown away by his strength, but we had no idea how far his strength would go.”
On June 6th, Cody had his first oncology appointment with a local pediatric oncologist, where he learned that the cancer spread to surrounding lymph nodes, as well as in both lungs. This brought the Bass family to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. During their first visit, the family met with Cody’s pediatric kidney tumor oncology specialist, where they discussed the upcoming surgery. Cody was set to have an 8-hour surgery to remove his right kidney, right adrenal gland, numerous lymph nodes, a wedge of tumor on his lung, and his appendix, which was unrelated to his cancer diagnosis.
Cody began to tell the doctors that he was “Built different” and they began to call him a bull, due to his strength. He was up and walking within 48 hours after his surgery, which exceeded all the doctor’s expectations. Once pathology came back, the results confirmed that Cody was going to be battling a rare and complex cancer; one that has only been diagnosed in 20 people, with just a few of those being kids. With the limitation of data on ALK Positive Renal Cell Carcinoma, Cody’s doctor recommended that Cody takes part in a clinical trial of an ALK inhibitor. Cody is the FIRST minor in North America to be on this drug. He is currently taking 8 pills a day, and we just got word from Nicole that his scan on September 22nd, showed that the cancer was not growing, along with many tumors shrinking!
Cody is determined to show cancer it messed with the wrong kid. He went back to school in September and even joined his bowling team back on the lanes. “This boy is my hero and makes me so proud to be his momma”, Nicole said. Cody is aware that his cancer is incurable and being on medication for the rest of his life is now his reality, but he refuses to allow it to be his life. Cody feels that overcoming his surgery was the “hardest part” and is in great spirits. Not once did Cody shed a tear, ask ‘Why me’, or even what his fate would be.
Fightstrong Foundation is Cody strong. We love you and we pray for you!