Family’s love and encouragement help son to beat odds

“The day you say Cameron will never do something, he never will!”

This statement has driven all of our efforts for our almost 3-year-old son, Cameron, these past two-and-a-half years. Dr. Nishant Shah, Cam’s neurologist, told us this the evening he gave us the devastating news that Cameron had suffered extensive brain damage as a result of the meningitis he had at one week of age.

Dr. Shah gave us hope—he told us he could not tell us if Cam would ever walk, talk, etc.—but that if we got Cameron into therapy early, we could maximize Cam’s healthy areas of his brain. We chose to follow Dr. Shah’s advice, and we are happy to report that despite Cameron’s cerebral palsy, he is able to walk, run, jump and play like many other toddlers. He is speech delayed and working hard to learn sign language and speak, but we are confident that with lots of practice and some time, Cameron will overcome his communication obstacles.

I created a Web site called that has information about Cameron’s story, our family, a link to a nine-minute video montage that shows Cameron’s journey these past three years, information about each of his medical team members, and a section about the current projects we are working on.

I am also using our experience to help others. Because Dr. Shah gave us hope, Cameron is becoming everything that he can be. I have been speaking to the director of Pediatrics at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge about presenting this winter to educate the medical community the importance of providing a patient and their family with hope when delivering a diagnosis. We are also working with the Center for Communication and Medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine to create a patient perspective video of our family that they will be using as an educational tool for medical students.

The main reason it is so important to my husband and me to share our experience is that Cam’s original neurologist when Cam was one week of age gave us no hope. When Cam was ventilated and survived an emergency transport, the neurologist originally had told us we should never have placed Cameron on life support and that he would have no functionality. Although Cameron made a turn-around and received the antibiotic treatment for meningitis, and we were told he was perfectly fine—no lasting effects would come—that was not the case.

Seven weeks later, he had some turning blue incident, and then was admitted to another hospital, Lutheran General in Park Ridge. It was there that the MRI showed the extensive brain damage that resulted from the meningitis, and we thank God every day that we were given the news by Dr. Nishant Shah—because when he told us of the results, he spent more than two hours with us. He allowed us to cry, ask the same questions over and over again, and when we asked, will he ever walk, talk, etc.—Dr. Shah did not tell us no. He told us, “The day you say Cameron will never do something, he never will.”

We hope by sharing our experience, we can raise awareness among the medical community to realize you always have to give a patient and their family hope. We are 100 percent positive that Cameron is going to be everything that he can be due to the hope we were given and all of the early intervention therapies and ongoing therapies he will continue to receive.

As Christopher Reeve stated and demonstrated to all of us, “Once we choose hope, everything is possible!” Our son, Cameron, is proof of this.

Cameron has a big sister, Abby, 4-1/2 years old. Becki Enck and her family are residents of Crystal Lake, Ill.

From the Sept. 20-26, 2006, issue

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