(Left to right) William and his baby sister, Leia; William and Veronica; Zeke and Aurora.

Celebrating one super, cancer-fighting mom

April 23, 2019

With Mother’s Day around the corner, we lift up one local supermom who is tackling her son’s brain cancer with positivity and perseverance.

When Veronica Moran’s bubbly and outgoing son William was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor, she could have taken to Google, driving herself crazy reading horror stories about other families facing similar diseases.

Even though her mind was full of worries for her 6-year-old son, the single mom — who was nearly 8 months pregnant with her fourth child at the time — decided to focus on the good things and find the light even in the darkest of times.

“Everyone is walking their own journey,” Veronica said. “This is our journey. We’re going to make it through, and we’re going to change the world.”

Zeke, Aurora, Leia and William surround their mother, Veronica.


An unexpected diagnosis

Prior to his diagnosis, William was having headaches and getting sick in the morning. At first, he was prescribed an allergy medicine, but then he started losing weight at an alarming rate.

Veronica took William for more testing, and doctors found a mass the size of a golf ball above his brain stem. The same day, Veronica and William rushed to Minneapolis to meet with a specialist in pediatric brain surgery.

On June 28, William had brain surgery to remove the tumor. Since the surgery, William has suffered mobility and speech difficulties. He didn’t speak for the first three weeks. Then on Veronica’s birthday, William said, “I love you.”

William also underwent radiation in Minneapolis, spending another six weeks away from home. Because of the location of the tumor, William needed to be sedated for each of the 30 treatments. During that time, Veronica gave birth to a little girl, Leia.

William cuddles his baby sister, Leia.


Treatment closer to home

At the end of August, Veronica and her family returned home with plans to finish William’s treatment with six cycles of chemotherapy at Sanford Children’s Bismarck. About once a month, William spent three days in the hospital receiving his treatment.

Veronica and William’s younger siblings, Zeke, Aurora and Leia, were by his side during each treatment. Being close to home meant the world to the family, especially with a new baby sister in tow.

During their visits, the Sanford Children’s child life team — Child Life Specialist Ashley Renton and Certified Music Therapist Bobbi Jo Vandal — stepped in to make the experience easier for the whole family.

Aurora, William and Zeke stay busy during on of William’s hospital visits.

“Ashley always remembered to bring extra bubbles for Zeke, because he would always end up spilling them,” Veronica said. “Instead of being scared to go to the hospital, the kids would ask if they would get to write another song with Bobbi Jo.”

Then following a treatment in January, William’s blood count started to drop and he came down with a dangerous series of infections including influenza, RSV and strep throat. He spent more than a month in the hospital.

“During that last stay especially, Ashley was my angel,” Veronica said. “All four kids want me at the same time, so I could use a couple extra arms. She helped me find my center.”


Finishing strong

William finished his last chemotherapy treatment on March 13, and his last scan showed no sign of cancer.

“Through it all, I’ve been amazed by William’s strength,” Veronica said. “He never cried. He just accepted that this is what’s happening and tomorrow will be better.

“He turned 7 in January and is a bubbly, outgoing little jokester. He loves Legos and wants to be an architect.”

William inspires others with his strength.

Veronica has been amazed not only by the resilience of her oldest child, but Aurora and Zeke as well.

“Zeke and Aurora have been so supportive of him,” Veronica said. “They always encouraged him through the tough times, and every night, they say a special prayer for William.”

Veronica said she’s so lucky to have such strong children and a supportive family to help along this journey, but the positive attitude of this supermom and the effect she had on those around her wasn’t overlooked.

“Veronica is constantly amazing me with her patience and compassion despite the daily hardships,” Renton said. “I call her supermom.”


Make a difference this Mother’s Day

Support more moms like Veronica this Mother’s Day with a gift to the Above and Beyond campaign for child life. Your donation will ensure child life services are always available at Sanford Children’s Bismarck free of charge for families like hers.

To learn more about the Above and Beyond campaign and make a donation today, visit sanfordhealthfoundation.org/childlife.