ToquiNotes: Four-Year-Old Warrior Parker Fox Gives Smack to Cancer as Family Seeks Return to Normal

By Jeff Toquinto on June 03, 2023 from ToquiNotes via

At times, Jennifer Fox admits, the clock never seemed to move. At other times, she would look back and think just how fast things were going.
Whether it was fast, slow, or even those rare periods where time seemed normal, Bridgeport High School Alum Jennifer Fox and her husband and fellow BHS graduate Jon had already decided to commit whatever time was needed to meet the goal at hand. The goal was one parents should never have to face.
The Fox family spent more than a year watching their youngster child, now 4-year-old Parker Fox, battle a form of cancer known as Rhabdomyosarcoma. The diagnosis came almost a year ago to the day, May 26, following surgery and near the start of what would be a gauntlet of hospital visits, appointments, tests, chemotherapy treatments and radiation.
The payoff? There have been a few. In fact, there have been several milestone dates.
The biggest, however, was April 10. It was back on the campus of the University of North Carolina after a three-hour road trip where Parker battled the disease. It was on that day, with just Parker and her parents, that the news they wanted to hear – needed to hear – came from the medical staff.
“The most important day was that day because that was the day for the PET scan. They turned around and told us her scan showed everything was clear,” said Jennifer. “That was the point when the emotions flooded us; we knew this was really good because there were 11 months getting to that point. There were 11 months of every type of battle and emotion you could think of and hearing that from the doctors made it all worth it.
“The tears were flowing,” she continued. “They kept flowing because we had our girl back as we wanted her to be back.”
Understand, there were other big days as well for the former Bridgeport residents now living in Wilmington, North Carolina. In fact, there were several, starting back on March 20.
“That was the bell ringing because of her last treatment and, well, it was a long day because nothing went as planned,” Jennifer said. “The norm is most of the time nothing is normal, and that day was no exception. Even with everything that came up, and having all of our family and friends that could be there to celebrate what was still a big moment, it turned into a very long day with a great ending.”
Another big day was Wednesday. Parker was back at UNC yet again for a hospital visit. She was there for another big step – to remove the port from her body where chemotherapy was given, blood was drawn, and medicines administered.
Now, outside of maintenance, this beautiful blue-eyed angel who fought cancer like a Mixed Martial Arts champion, can take a step back and be a kid full time. And she has earned it.
“She had 40 weeks of chemotherapy, four weeks of radiation, so 20 treatments, and the number of other visits, shots, ER trips, and times she had to be deal with medically is easily over 100 procedures,” said Jennifer. “One hundred may actually be on the smaller side if you think about everything.
“Getting rid of the port kind of closes this chapter,” she continued. “From this point forward, the maintenance starts.”
The key part of the maintenance is additional scans. Every three months, the family will make the trip back to UNC to have a scan to make sure the cancer does not return. Right now, barring a fluctuation in the schedule, they will be back in Chapel Hill on July 10.
“May 18 is when we first went to the emergency room knowing something was wrong. A little more than a year later, we’re here. It’s been a crazy hear that seemed forever and fast at the same time,” said Jennifer. “When her radiation ended in October, I thought we were halfway there, but it felt like an eternity. January hit, things were progressing, and I thought things were flying by. It’s odd how that happens when you’re so focused on time.”
Now, Jon and Jennifer and Parker’s now 8-year-old sister Madison are looking at watching Parker blossom back to full strength and do so without the worries that have accompanied the past. Already, they are seeing the one thing that lets them know normal should be on its way.
“I see her hair is coming back. That has to be wonderful to see. Everybody that sees her cannot believe how fast her hair is coming back,” said Jennifer. “Her eyelashes are back, and her eyebrows are there. At times it’s hard to remember her losing it, but it’s really great to see that coming back.”
The return to normal is at a perfect time. The girls will be home for the summer and warm weather in North Carolina is not a bad thing for anyone.
“We’re all looking forward to a summer filled with fun, and no real obligation and hopefully no unscheduled hospital visits,” said Jennifer. “We’re thankful to be where we’re at right now.”
The Fox family is also thankful for two communities. One is the Wilmington neighborhood in which they live. The other is her hometown of Bridgeport and those surrounding it.
“The community we live in has supported us in a way that is even more humbling than our hometown of Bridgeport and that is hard to do because the support has been continuous,” she said. “I guess seeing lemonade stands set up with kids raising money for Parker and having the kids make bracelets for her to make her feel better. It’s all beautiful on so many levels. It’s been amazing.”
Back here in Harrison County, one of Parker’s grandmothers was giving blood at an American Red Cross event. During that time, she talked to another donor who mentioned a 10-year-old battling cancer and then, randomly, mentioned a little girl battling cancer named Parker. The grandmother asked if it was Parker Fox, and it was.
“It’s bizarre, in a good way, to know our little girl touched other lives, but we want people to know they’ve touched ours. To this day, we continue to be overwhelmed by people who are loving on our little girl who barely know her, know her from a distance, or have just heard about her battle,” Jennifer said. “I think we have somehow, through Parker and her journey, found she’s a miracle.”
A beautiful miracle. Who just happened to slap cancer into submission.
Editor's Note: Photos show Parker with her mother Jennifer and father Jon, as well as with her big sister Madison. Top picture shows Parker "ringing the bell" after her last treatement, while she is shown with her sister in the bottom photo on her first day "back to school" on May 1.  All photos courtesy of the Fox family. 

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