This summer, 10-year-old Christopher Timpone will be swimming, hanging out with his friends, playing baseball and vacationing in Ocean City, Md. with his family. These are all normal activities for an average boy, but Christopher and his family are just happy that none of his plans include the word “chemotherapy.”
“He’s just a regular kid again,” his mother, Kathleen Timpone, said in an interview Thursday afternoon. “It’s amazing.”
Just 10 months ago, Christopher was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma, sending him on a rollercoaster of doctors’ visits and chemo treatments. In January, he underwent a 14-hour surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan to remove a malignant tumor from his jaw bone.
In April, however, Christopher returned to his home in Aquebogue from his final chemotherapy treatment — cancer-free.
“Even the doctors were surprised that he was able to complete his treatment as quickly as he did,” Kathleen said. He was back in his fourth grade class in Aquebogue Elementary after Easter break, and was able to finish out the year so that he can attend fifth grade this fall.
“It was great to be back with all my friends,” a pajama-clad Christopher said Saturday morning, perched on a couch in the family living room, flanked by his two younger brothers, Johnathan, 7, and Zachary, 5.
Having beaten cancer, Christopher and his family are now gratefully settling back into “normal life,” his mother said. Christopher is enrolled in a summer baseball league, spends his mornings playing iPad games with his brothers and is even planning to attend his first overnight summer camp with Johnathan next week.
The summer camp, called Happiness is Camping, is a special camp for cancer survivors and their siblings. Christopher and Johnathan leave for the Hardwick, N.J. camp Monday and will spend five days swimming, playing sports, fishing, boating and befriending other children who’ve had similar experiences with cancer.
“It’s just amazing because we really thought he would still be in treatment at this point,” Kathleen said.
In addition to a planned family vacation in Ocean City, where Christopher says he will go to water parks and spend time with his family, the spunky 10-year-old may soon be on a plane to Hawaii courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Make-A-Wish is a national organization that grants the wishes of children who have life-threatening medical conditions, and Christopher has requested a trip to Hawaii.
“There’s a resort there where I can swim with dolphins and go golfing,” said Christopher. He is very passionate about sports, golf and baseball in particular, and has been golfing since he was just five years old. He said he was excited to go ziplining and snorkeling at the resort as well.
The East Quogue restaurant La Lanterna held a fundraiser June 26 to raise money for Christopher’s trip to Hawaii through the Make-A-Wish foundation.
“It’s great to see where the money is going,” said Danielle Candela, who handles public relations for the restaurant. “It was such a joy to sponsor Christopher’s wish.”
About 60 people turned out for the fundraiser, which cost $50 a ticket and included a buffet-style dinner. At least 25 local businesses donated prizes to a chinese auction as well. “We were really excited with the turnout,” Candela said.
Kathleen said Christopher doesn’t understand all the attention he’s received since his diagnosis in October. There have been almost a dozen fundraisers throughout the Riverhead community, including car washes, dinners, bake sales, variety shows, craft sales, bowling and raffles for Christopher and his family. “He just doesn’t get it, especially now,” said Kathleen, laughing. “To him, everything is over. He doesn’t understand all the attention.”
Christopher, meanwhile, is happily readjusting to life without cancer. After an interview Saturday morning, he left to attend Johnathan’s baseball game at Stotzky Park, and then continued preparing for his camping trip.
“This community has just been so generous with our family,” Kathleen said. “They got us through the toughest time. We were able to just focus on his health, and that was the greatest blessing of all.”