Rory Dominick on how her son’s health struggles inspired her to help families like her own
By RORY DOMINICK March 7, 2014 3:44PM
Rory and Matt Dominick with sons Connor (left) and Cameron
Updated: March 13, 2014 12:20PM
I’ve never won any prizes in a raffle, trips to exotic locations or even a radio contest. I definitely never have used the term “lucky” to describe my life, especially if you’d asked me seven years ago.
In 2006, my son Cameron was born two months premature with medical conditions affecting his brain, heart, kidney, diaphragm and spinal cord. At three weeks, he had his first brain surgery for hydrocephalus, a condition where a buildup of fluid inside the skull leads to brain swelling. At one year, he had surgery to treat a tethered spinal cord. To date, he has had five brain surgeries and his future nearly guarantees more. Emergency room visits and hospital stays are the norm. He continues to be treated by nine specialists who monitor his many conditions, none that are curable.
But today as I look at Cameron and all he has accomplished, I honestly feel lucky for all the blessings of his life. Cameron can walk (albeit with braces), he can talk and, if you met him today, you’d never believe what he has endured and still has to live with each day.
The true blessing of Cameron’s life is not only his survival, but that he has taught me the true meaning of empathy and the joy of giving back to others. In 2011, our family was deep in medical debt after years of treatments. Luckily we had some amazing friends who saw a need and met it by throwing a benefit for Cameron and our family. It was a very humbling experience, and one my husband and I weren’t comfortable with at the time. I never thought of us as a charity case. We made “too much” for assistance, but the reality was that we couldn’t maintain the care Cameron needed for the rest of his life. Right then, I decided the only way I could ever accept support from friends and family was to pay it forward.
As soon as the 2011 benefit for our family wrapped up, we began plans to officially launch the Cameron Can Foundation. After experiencing firsthand the financial strain of having a child with long-term medical conditions, we knew there had to be other families like our own who fell through the cracks of the system — making too much for assistance but not enough to keep up with the thousands upon thousands in medical bills.
Today the Cameron Can Foundation provides grants to children facing ongoing neurological challenges, especially hydrocephalus and spina bifida. Now in our fourth year, we’ve raised more than $200,000 and helped seven children and their families. The grants we provide allow families to take a deep breath and provide the necessary care to ensure their children can have a bright future.
I invite you to join us Thursday at the Fourth Annual Cameron Rocks On benefit, where we will continue our effort to help even more families. For more information, visit Cameron-can.com.