DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – James Camden Sikes appeared to be a happy, healthy baby. But underneath his full head of hair, the unthinkable was growing. “Complete devastation,” recalled Kara Sikes. “I think we were completely shocked.”
James was nearly eight months old when doctors discovered a brain tumor in Kara and Matthew Sikes’ only child. Surgery removed 95% of the tumor, but it came back with a vengeance. “The doctor said, I have some bad news about the MRI. He said there’s been some tumor progression,” said Matthew.
The cancer spread to most of James’ brain, so his parents took him back to their East Dallas home for his final days. “I’m just so thankful that we got to share those things with him,” his mother fondly remembers. “He was surrounded by love and the people who loved him the most.”
Less than a month after first being diagnosed with cancer, James passed away on July 16, 2011.
His parents chronicled the ups and mostly downs on a blog to keep family and friends informed. It would soon spread to other states and other countries. To this day, the blog has received nearly a half-million hits. “I think it’s been a real source of comfort for us, because there have been a lot of people with similar experiences who have reached out to us,” said Matthew.
A week or so after James passed away, a baby giraffe was born at the Dallas Zoo. The zoo has since asked the public to name the newborn giraffe. When family and friends of the Sikes got word of the zoo’s naming contest, they launched a campaign to get the baby giraffe named after James.
The newborn is a female, so if all goes well, the animal’s name would be Jamie. James’ mother says it would mean a lot to her and her husband. I think every parent just wants to know that their child is remembered, when they lose a child.”
Matthew and Kara say their young son was fascinated with giraffes and that he loved to touch them during his visits to the Dallas Zoo. Even if his name doesn’t live on at the Dallas Zoo, James Camden Sikes’ memory will live on in the place that matters most; his parents’ hearts.
The couple has set up a foundation to help find a cure for cancer caused by Rhabdoid tumors.