Liam Salmon, who is battling a rare pediatric brain tumor, had a simple request for his fifth birthday: mail. And boy, did he get his wish.
After spending a week in the hospital, including his birthday, Oct. 22, Liam and his parents, Howard and Mary Salmon, of Anderson, California, arrived home late Tuesday to a mountain of packages and mail from across the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.
Doctors diagnosed Liam in January with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), an inoperable brain tumor that infiltrates the pons portion of the brainstem that controls breathing, sleeping and balance. There is no cure for DIPG, which has a 0% survival rate.
After FreightWaves posted an article about Liam’s love of mail, John Deere and Legos, the transportation industry and John Deere’s Twitter followers quickly responded and found birthday cards and little surprises to send him.
“We are amazed that so many good people cared enough to send our son a card, a gift or say a prayer to make Liam’s birthday memorable,” Howard Salmon told FreightWaves.
A neighbor had been feeding the Salmons’ cat while they were with Liam for a week at UC Davis in Sacramento. He also collected the family’s mail but didn’t tell the Salmons that more than 60 packages and a huge stack of cards had arrived for Liam while they were away.
Instead, the neighbor stacked the packages and cards neatly in the Salmons’ living room, so the birthday boy would be surprised when he arrived home from the hospital.
Liam has been opening the cards and few gifts each day, so it will feel like every day is his birthday for a while, Salmon said.
“We haven’t made a dent in all of the packages, but he’s loving looking at everything and playing with the toys,” he said.
A bad scare
A day before his birthday, doctors admitted Liam to the hospital because his blood pressure was too high. He also had lost the ability to speak.
“Our doctor said that Liam was going downhill fast and that maybe it was time to stop treatment and just keep him comfortable for the time he had left,” Salmon said.
But then Salmon said Liam’s doctor looked at his latest MRI and noticed the tumor had shrunk a bit, which gave his doctor and parents some hope.
After a week in the hospital, Liam was more alert and talking some, so doctors released him to go home.
After making the nearly three-hour journey home, Liam’s mom was first to open the door and see the gifts from his new friends.
“My wife was like, ‘Howard, you have to come see this now,’” he said. “Liam was a tired little boy, but you should have seen his grin. He was happy and that means everything to us.”
Drive-by birthday party for Liam is Thursday
A local trucking company, T & S, is hosting a drive-by birthday party for Liam at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday in Anderson. It had to be pushed back to give Liam some time to rest and build up his strength.