On Thursday about 6:10 p.m., Baggett — joined by her husband, Dennis, and her 7-year-old son, Nolan — will be interviewed during the benefit, which will generate funds for research and programs at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2011, Nolan was diagnosed with a brain tumor and hydrocephalus and, after having the mass’ size monitored, later received chemotherapy at Scottish Rite. In addition to providing details about Nolan’s diagnosis and treatment, the family’s radio segment will share how the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hospital and its staff assisted in his health journey.
“We want to try to get across that this is a wonderful, wonderful organization,” Baggett said. “Time and time again, when things come up for us, they’re always there. We just can’t say enough wonderful things about them. There’s just so much support that they offer the families. There’s social workers. There’s not just the doctors and nurses, but there’s all kinds of people participating. ... A lot of these procedures are scary, and they kind of sit down and talk to [the children] and talk about the procedures.
“It’s night and day,” she said, comparing Scottish Rite to a standard hospital’s services. “A hospital is a wonderful place ... but [Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta facilities] are geared specifically toward kids and a lot of those kids are [scared]. They take time with them and they love them and they care for them. It’s just a wonderful experience. ... We just hope that folks are able to listen in and support them any way they can.”
Since Nolan usually was an energetic child, his parents were concerned after he was sleeping for lengthy periods of time and vomiting. Initially thinking Nolan’s symptoms stemmed from an incident at the playground where he hit his head, the Baggetts were surprised to learn they were not connected.
“We did the CT and we went back to the room and we waited,” Baggett said. “The doctor came back to talk to us and he said, ‘Is this where he hit his head?’ We said, ‘Yes.’ You could still barely see the bruise. And he said, ‘Well, I just want you to know ... what we found and this have absolutely nothing to do with each other.’ So for us — we’re of real strong faith — we feel like God pointed us all in the right direction. That’s when the doctor told us that they had found a mass, which they believed to be a tumor, and they also found hydrocephalus, which is fluid on the brain.
“Because of where Nolan’s tumor is, it blocks the flow of your cerebrospinal fluid — the fluid that protects your brain and your spine. What was happening was ... the pressure was building up and that was causing the vomiting and the sleepiness and everything that we were seeing. Again, our whole experience with Children’s has been absolutely wonderful. We’re excited that we can represent and help them any way we can. The cancer center has been fabulous.”
After his diagnosis, Nolan underwent two endoscopic third ventriculostomies to treat his hydrocephalus and prior to the last procedure, he started undergoing a year of chemotherapy. Considered to be a slow-growing tumor, his mass was minimally reduced in size and is stabilized at this time.
Since its inception in 2001, the Care-a-Thon has generated more than $14 million for the Aflac Cancer Center.
“The Aflac Cancer Center is one of the largest childhood cancer and blood disorders centers in the country, caring for more inpatients than any other pediatric center. It treats more than 6,500 children each year at three campuses in metro Atlanta,” said Sophie Frankham-Smith — public relations intern for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta — referring to Egleston, Hughes Spalding and Scottish Rite. “On average the Aflac Cancer Center sees 375 new cancer patients each year — that is one new child with cancer walking through the doors every single day of the year. Care-a-Thon is a 37-hour continuous broadcast on WSB radio to raise money for important research and programs at the Aflac Cancer Center. Last year alone, Care-a-Thon raised more than $1.5 million.
“... From 4:30 a.m. July 31 until 6 p.m. on Aug. 1, listeners will hear incredible stories of the children and families who have been impacted by the Aflac Cancer Center. The Care-a-Thon will also feature special guests, such as Hermain Cain, Freddie Freeman, Matt Ryan and Clark Howard, and give listeners the opportunity to make donations and participate in one-of-a-kind experiences.”
Frankham-Smith continued, “... I think it’s important for families, like Nolan Baggett and his parents, to share their stories during this Care-a-Thon because it allows people to hear firsthand the experiences of someone who is receiving care from where this money raised is going towards. The money raised during Care-a-Thon is going to kids like Nolan to help their fight. The patients and families are so inspiring.”
During the Care-a-Thon’s broadcast, listeners will be able to place donations by calling 888-750-2772 or visiting www.choa.org/careathon.