Stories of Inspiration: Our Little “Buffalo Soldier”

This is the story of an amazing little man named Aiden Marley, who graced this world with his staggering calm and beautiful presence while capturing the hearts of everyone he came in contact with.  

His father and I will always remember how alive the world seemed after holding our son for the first time. But, shortly after birth, Aiden began showing signs of an illness. However, he never cried, nor complained; therefore it is still hard to believe that his illness would become so severe.

On April 25th, 2009, Aiden was rushed to the ER after nine months of fighting with pediatricians who had continuously diagnosed him with reflux. That afternoon, following a CT, doctors discovered that our baby boy had not one, but three brain tumors and his condition was deteriorating. Within hours of the CT, Aiden was rushed into EVD surgery, later undergoing a craniotomy and partial tumor resection two days later. On May 4th, pathology revealed that Aiden was diagnosed with Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumors (AT/RT), one of the most aggressive malignant brain tumors, which left his father and I in complete dismay. We will never forget the intense fear and anguish which filled our hearts that day. Following his craniotomy, Aiden had some severe side effects which would keep him in ICU for several weeks.

Next, they would throw a couple of rounds of intense chemo hisway and no matter how sick he got, there he was with a smile. Aiden would become terribly ill from the side effects; however he would never show any sign of mercy; and his strength, as young as he was, still dumfounds me.  During the last round of chemo, we were able to celebrate his first birthday at the hospital, but due to the effects of chemo Aiden was not really up to a celebration.

The next step would be stem cell transplant, where Aiden sailed through the first round and barely survived the second. Four days after the second transplant, Aiden became septic spending two very critical weeks in ICU…again. Right before he was placed on a respirator, due to full respiratory distress, I remember him showing his depth by playing his keyboard in between getting sick, despite the oxygen mask that covered his entire face. That day he became more than my son, he was my soldier, “My Buffalo Soldier”.  Soon, little man would push on and overcome yet another battle.

After transplant, in October 2009, Aiden would code in the OR and within twelve hours of being resuscitated, amazingly he was laughing and playing with us again.  Aiden had prevailed, but due to the toll on his body, he was too weak to undergo any more treatment at that time.  He was finally transferred to Rehab for three weeks, eventually showing signs that he was the strongest he had been since diagnosis. At this time, Aiden and I had spent 189 days straight in the hospital, eventually being released, and anticipating oral chemo at home.

In his five weeks at home, we were able to celebrate Thanksgiving as a family and cuddle in the bed together often. Do not mistake the fact that most of our time was spent attending numerous appointments, which took away our time together.

Sadly, the results of Aiden’s next MRI would show that he had relapsed. On December 20th, Aiden started seizing and within two weeks we had lost our little soldier on January 5, 2010 at 17 months old.  We were fortunate to have the chance to celebrate Christmas and New Years with our little man.  

This story is just a glimpse at our extraordinary child that showed the strength of a thousand men and never broke. It was a running joke between his nurses and doctors, that Aiden never did anything by the book and he always challenged their work. I’ve been told by more than one doctor, that my soldier has changed the way they practice medicine forever. Aiden’s strength and blues eyes will forever linger in the hearts and minds of everyone that knew him.

Mommy loves you baby boy!


About The Brain Tumor Foundation for Children

Founded in 1983, BTFC was the first nonprofit in the U.S. to focus on brain cancer in children. Our mission is to support patients and their families.
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One Response to Stories of Inspiration: Our Little “Buffalo Soldier”

  1. Mirta Angulo says:

    May God Bless your family and comfort you with the the reality that Aiden in His arms and is
    100% happy. I too have an baby heaven and know I will see her again.

    Mirta Angulo

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