PEABODY — You wouldn’t know from watching Aiden Dupont cavort like any other happy toddler that he has cancer. The 16-month-old has a rare cancerous tumor called retinoblastoma, which affects his eyes.
The cancer isn’t life-threatening and the prognosis is hopeful — in the United States, the cure rate is 95 to 98 percent — but worst case, young Aiden could lose an eye or possibly both if the tumors spread and cannot be shrunk by treatment. The American Cancer Society says retinoblastoma is the most common malignant tumor of the eye in children.
Parents Jason and Julie of Peabody learned Aiden tested positive for the cancer nine days after he and twin sister Colleen were born Dec. 9, 2012. Since that following January, Aiden has undergone monthly exams under anesthesia. The first tumor was found in one eye April 17, 2013.
Julie says until several weeks ago, the tumors were responding well to laser and cryotherapy treatments, but one “stubborn little bugger” persisted and Aiden then began regular chemotherapy treatment. He now goes in to Mass. General Hospital in Boston every three weeks for two rounds of radiation.
“He’s a very happy little boy. To look at him you wouldn’t know he was sick,” Julie said. She said Aiden is a bright presence at the hospital when he goes in for treatment and always has a smile for the nursing staff, but the chemo is starting to take its toll. “He gets tired more easily.”
Overall, she describes the situation as emotionally and mentally draining for their family with many unknown factors. Jason, a Peabody native and Peabody High grad, works at the Department of Public Services. Julie recently started a secretarial job with Lahey Behavioral Health Services but has taken a lot of unpaid time off for Aiden’s medical appointments.