Max – The Mighty Cancer Warrior

Max the mighty cancer warrior

Max is a neuroblastoma warrior. The energetic and active three-year-old has been fighting high-risk Stage IV Neuroblastoma since August.

His diagnosis came as a complete surprise to his parents, Dianna and Roger, who say that Max was the healthiest and wildest kid you’d ever meet. 

Max sometimes complained about knee pain and then his eye started getting puffy. Then one day, his eye looked black and blue and got worse. Then the other eye turned yellow and started to bruise. Knowing something was off, Max’s parents took him to the doctor for blood work.

The results showed cancer, so his pediatrician called Dr. Oesterheld at Levine Children’s Hospital, where Max was admitted immediately. It was there that Max and his parents became part of the LCH family under the great care of Dr. Oesterheld and an amazing team of nurses and other medical professionals to begin a long and rigorous treatment process.

Max’s Treatment

The primary tumor is on Max’s liver, on two lymph nodes on his abdomen, and his eye. He recently had 30 percent of his liver removed, a resection surgery to remove his tumors, and received his sixth round of chemotherapy. He has also had 11-12 blood transfusions and four platelet transfusions since August. 

Max the mighty cancer warrior

Max still has bone cancer on the entire top of his skull, right upper arm, pelvis, spine, and legs. His treatment is being pushed back three to four months, because his cancer isn’t quite ready to move forward with the original treatment plan, which would include a high dose of chemotherapy and stem cells. He may end up needing MIBG Therapy. 

“I would never want anyone else to have to go through this,” said Max’s mom, Dianna. “It’s very scary, but we are very grateful to the amazing team at Levine Children’s Hospital who are like a second family.”

Max is part of DFMO drug study at LCH to help prevent relapse of neuroblastoma. As part of the study, he takes a chemotherapy pill at home. Fortunately, it doesn’t add any additional side effects or toxicity. 

Max bounces back between treatments and enjoys his time at home in Montgomery County where he and his family have a hobby farm. Max’s best friend is his chicken named Pumpkin who is like a dog in the way he plays with him and follows him around.

Pediatric Cancer Funding

Max receiving treatment at Levine Children’s Hospital

It wasn’t until this summer’s shocking news that Dianna realized how much funding is needed in the pediatric cancer field.  Since Max’s diagnosis, his parents have become passionate about raising awareness and funding for pediatric cancer and supporting local hospitals like Levine Children’s because they don’t turn people away. 

Adds Dianna, “These hospitals are like angels doing everything they can do to give all these kids a fighting chance. My new mission is educating people about rare childhood cancer. No baby, three-year-old or teenager deserves to die because there is not enough money to save their lives. I will do whatever I can to make a difference.”

If you are interested in helping support Max during his treatment to assist with medical expenses and gas cards for their two-hour trip from Montgomery County to Levine Children’s Hospital, please email Dianna at to her PayPal. 

Max and his pet chicken Pumpkin

Max, Cancer Messed With the Wrong Kid

Max and Santa

Driven to Support Our Local Cancer Community

Last December, our ‘Car For A Cure’ raffle made an even bigger impact on our local cancer community. Steve Amedio, co-founder of All-In to Fight Cancer was the lucky winner of a 2-year lease of a 2018 Platinum Edition Nissan Murano donated by Modern Nissan of Lake Norman. 

Steve didn’t need the car for himself, but wanted to figure out how the Charlotte cancer community could benefit from Modern Nissan of Lake Norman’s generosity. The donated 2-year lease was gifted to ChemoCars to use the Isabella Santos Foundation ‘Car For A Cure.’

ChemoCars provides local cancer patients with free, on-demand rides to and from treatments. Because ChemoCars exclusively uses Uber and Lyft to transport patients, the custom-wrapped ‘Car For A Cure’ is used for meetings and events throughout the area. 

“We were super excited to get the car, which serves as a great branding piece with its larger-than-life display,” says Zach Bolster who founded ChemoCars in memory of his mother, Gloria, who died from pancreatic cancer. “We are a young nonprofit so to have this moving billboard is a huge asset to our organization.” 

Since launching in March 2017, ChemoCars has consistently grown. Last month, they provided nearly 1,000 rides in Charlotte and Amarillo, Texas. Every ride honors Gloria who dedicated her life to helping others and is the inspiration of ChemoCars. 

Adds Zach, “We are very grateful to All-In to Fight Cancer and the Isabella Santos Foundation. This car is indicative of the spirit of cooperation happening among the Charlotte cancer community. We all enjoy working together and helping make the Queen City one of the best places in the nation to fight cancer.”


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The 2018 ‘Car For A Cure’ campaign is currently underway. You can participate by making a donation between now and December 15 at 11:00 a.m. for a chance to win a two-year lease of a brand new 2018 Nissan Murano Platinum courtesy of Modern Nissan of Lake Norman. To be eligible, participants must make a $100 donation to The Isabella Santos Foundation through this Eventbrite site In addition, Jersey Mike’s Subs will provide a $250 gift card for the drawing, which will be held at noon on Saturday, December 15.

Buy a Christmas Tree to Chomp Childhood Cancer

When you get ready to buy your Christmas tree this season, look no further than The Adam Faulk Tanksley Foundation Christmas Tree Lot in Waxhaw. For the past seven years, the foundation has hosted the tree lot with 100 percent of the proceeds supporting Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s Hospital.

Located at 8500 Rea Road (corner of Rea Road and Crane Road), the Christmas tree lot will be open Thanksgiving Day until Friday, December 21: Mon.-Fri: 5:00-9:00 p.m. and Sat.-Sun. 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. There will also homemade wreaths available for sale.

“This tree lot has truly been a wonderful experience for us and the community,” said Sharon Tanksley, Adam’s mom and executive director of the foundation named in her son’s honor. “Several local high school baseball teams volunteer and get community services hours. We feel so blessed to have such true volunteers and customers support the tree lot and our mission.”

The Christmas tree lot is the biggest fundraiser for The Adam Faulk Tanksley Foundation and raises approximately $75,000 each holiday season. The trees come from the North Carolina mountains courtesy of The Blair Mills Foundation. The organization’s “Angels Among Us” was created for a young girl named Blair Mills who fought neuroblastoma years ago and passed away after a long and hard battle with this cancer. The Blair Mills Foundation continues, in her memory, to fight by providing fresh cut Frasier Fir trees to four lots for Hometown Heroes and a lot for Adam Faulk Tanksley Foundation. 

“In collaboration with these foundations, we want to give children and families who are fighting cancer the hope of one more day, one more Christmas and a cure for this horrible disease,” said Sharon. “Please get your tree from one of these locations and enjoy your Christmas this year knowing that you are contributing to children and families in efforts to win the battle against childhood cancer.”

Adam is a 10-year cancer survivor. In January 2008, he was diagnosed with Stage IV Anaplastic Wilms’ Tumor, an extremely rare childhood kidney cancer with unfavorable history – just a 25% estimated cure rate and 80% relapse probability. In addition to his cancer treatment, Adam also had part of his lung removed. Today he is cancer free and doing great. While he only has 50-percent lung capacity, that doesn’t stop him from being active and playing sports. Now a 14-year-old freshman in high school, Adam recently received his black belt in karate, does kickboxing and plays baseball. 

The Tanksley Family relocated from Charlotte to Easley, SC in 2014, but come back to Charlotte for their LCH visits and to help at the tree lot. Adds Sharon, “Each holiday season we look forward to the tree lot, which is one of our favorite Christmas traditions and has such a good feel and vibe. This is a great opportunity for everyone to come together to Chomp Childhood Cancer.”

Isabella Santos Foundation 5K and 10K for Kids Cancer Raises $225,000

The Isabella Santos Foundation announced that its 11th Annual 5K/10K for Kids Cancer and 1-Mile Fun Run has raised $225,000.

Three thousand people participated in this year’s race that took place on Sept. 29 in Ballantyne Corporate Park. The family-friendly event also featured a post-race festival that included: a Kids Fun Zone with games, face painting, slides, jump house and photo booth; food and refreshments; activity booths; and a silent auction and raffle. Brighthouse Financial served as the presenting sponsor. The following is a link to additional event sponsors.

“Huge thanks to all who joined us for our annual 5K and 10K for Kids Cancer! The event was a big success and a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Isabella’s life and raise funds for pediatric cancer research,” said Erin Santos, Executive Director and President of the Isabella Santos Foundation. “We appreciate our generous sponsors and dedicated staff, volunteers, participants and spectators for supporting Isabella’s dream of a world with no more cancer.”

About Isabella Santos Foundation

The Isabella Santos Foundation (ISF) is a 501(c)3 childhood cancer foundation dedicated to raising funds for research for neuroblastoma, other rare pediatric cancers, and charities that directly impact the lives of children with cancer. ISF was founded in honor of Isabella Santos from Charlotte, N.C. who lost her battle against neuroblastoma. ISF works to improve rare pediatric cancer treatment options in an effort to improve the survival rate of kids with cancer. For more information, visit  or follow ISF on Facebook (, Instagram ( and Twitter (

Big Heroes Come In Small Packages

Madison and mom Laura

Madison was diagnosed this past April with osteosarcoma at age five. After several rounds of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor on her femur, she had surgery to remove her right femur and replace it with one from a cadaver. Fortunately, the medical team was able to remove most of the tumor and save both of Madison’s growth plates. She continues to receive chemotherapy and recover from her surgery. Once Madison gets the green light from her doctors to be more mobile, she is determined to learn to walk again so she can earn a super cute bribe from her parents – a Golden Retriever puppy. 

A Community of Support

Madison and her family live two hours from Charlotte in Scotland County. She and her mom make the drive each week to Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s Hospital where Madison receives in-patient treatment Thursday-Saturday. They then return home for four days to be with their family – Madison’s dad, Michael, and big sister, Riley – and where Laura teaches three days a week. 

“Madison’s diagnosis has changed us all,” says Laura. “Michael and I have to raise each of our daughters as single parents during the days when we are in Charlotte for treatment. The hardest part is not being together under the same roof. We are very grateful for the great friends we have made through this journey. You realize you can’t do this alone so you learn to rely on support from others.”

Chef Madison

Team Madison

For the remainder of the year, Madison will be homebound where she loves to cook, bake, do crafts and make “how-to” videos on her mom’s phone. When she finishes chemo in December, she’ll resume her favorite activities including: dance classes, swimming and learning how to ride her bike.

In January, she will start kindergarten at the school where Laura teaches and where they already have a tremendous community of support. Faculty and students have created “Team Madison” in honor of Madison for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Scotland County. Laura and Madison stay busy supporting the team. It all started with their Levine Children’s Hospital life coach bringing them some beads to make necklaces and bracelets. From there, Laura and Madison started making “Madison’s Hope Rope” key chains that they give to patients at Levine Children’s Hospital and sell to raise funds for their Relay For Life team and other cancer organizations. 

“Madison is our hero and is such an inspiration,” says Laura. “She’s such a good kid and is all about wanting to help other people. Even though she’s five, she’s changing people’s lives.”

Madison and sister Riley