The Little Tractor Boy That Could: Liam Salmon

Liam Salmon was born on October 29th, 2015, and was adopted by his parents, Howard and Mary Salmon. Howard describes Liam as an intelligent, energetic, and exceedingly curious child who touched the hearts of everyone he met, and who loved nothing more than just being a kid. Howard says that Liam was his teacher; it is an extraordinary thing to have a child teach you a lesson because their view of the world is so pure. Colors are brighter, people are nicer, and small moments mean everything to them because their eyes have not yet seen the storms that life can create. Liam saw the storms much, much too early. He was an extraordinary boy who loved his life and his family. He loved his miniature John Deere tractor, he loved to spend time with his father and help him work. He was a doer–a leader.

On the 4th of January, 2020, the Salmon family received a devastating diagnosis: Liam had an aggressive and rare pediatric brain tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. Because of the tumor’s location on the brain stem, paired with the fact that it is surrounded by healthy tissue vital to bodily functions, it is inoperable and incredibly difficult to treat. The symptoms began with Liam losing his balance, so the Salmons traveled to UC Davis Children’s Hospital where the news was broken. Liam was later transferred to the University of California in San Francisco where he completed 30 rounds of radiation treatments and was put on a chemotherapy drug called ONC201, but according to Howard Salmon, it was not effective. They switched Liam to Ribociclib and Everlomis, chemo drugs approved by a North Carolina practice called Atrium, at the end of July. By August, Liam could not walk, but after observing him, the doctors found that his tumor shrunk. The first part of November proved just as difficult because Liam could no longer speak. He fought tenaciously for almost a full year, but earned his wings on New Year’s Eve, surrounded by his loving family.

Liam was so much more than his diagnosis. He was a child loved by all of those who knew him and his story. Liam will live forever in the hearts of those who saw him for who he was: a warrior. He shows us all that even if the odds are stacked against us in life, we must push onward. We must persevere and we must not lose sight of what is truly important in life: being unapologetically ourselves, loving one another, and being kind.

Following Liam’s passing, Howard had plans to acquire a rare 1940 Chevrolet Cabover truck and have it put into films and television shows to raise awareness for DIPG and Liam’s story. No parent should ever feel the pain of losing a child, so Howard implores anyone and everyone who knows about DIPG to donate to its cause. For Liam, and for all of the children who have lost this fight, the echo of your voices will be heard long after we find a cure for DIPG. Full Steam Ahead.

 By Sydney Forte

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