Photos capture gut-wrenching and beautiful story of a mom’s love for her terminally ill child



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Derek Madsen was your typical 10 year Californian boy. However, his life would soon take a sudden turn during the summer of 2005, leaving his mother, Cindy French, wondering what would happen next.

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The strength and resiliency that she would display during her son’s hour of need is a true inspiration to us all and her determination deserves a great deal of praise. There are not many parents out there who would be able to survive the shock of the news that Cindy received and our hearts certainly go out to her.

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Derek had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a highly rare form of cancer that is mostly found in smaller children and he would begin treatment for the disease with his mother by his side. In a stirring turn of events, Renée C. Byer asked the family if she could chronicle Derek’s battle and they readily agreed.

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The pain and desperation are on full display, as well as the moments of exuberance, like when Derek took a joyride down the hallway of the hospital as a means of distracting himself from the true gravity of what he was facing.

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Derek would then undergo a bone marrow extraction and woke up in a great deal of pain with his mother by his side. Cindy had dedicated herself to the process of nurturing and caring for her fallen son, even giving up her own beauty salon to make sure that she could always be there for him.

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Finally, Derek reached a point where he could take no more, as his radiation treatments grew progressively more painful. His time finally came in May 2006 and he was given a sedative that allowed him to die in a peaceful manner. Thanks to the tireless efforts of his mother, Derek was able to experience some final moments of happiness and her memories of her son’s bravery will help to carry her through.


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