I remember back in 1999 when my little brother David was born. I was 16 years old at the time, and already spent most of those years being a bigger brother to Dan and Mike. Now, a new little dude shows up, expecting the world of his big brother. I felt a new sense of responsibility. Even though I hated dirty diapers and the sound of crying. Oh, and babysitting…not my thing. I got over it.
I turned 18, moved out of the house, and ran off to college at Ferris State for four years. I didn’t feel much like a big brother since I was never around. David blossomed into a sharp, funny little kid, asking grown-up questions of his first grade teacher, visiting the principal a few times a month. I enjoyed hearing those stories during holidays and visits home.
Fast-forward to 2013. A year that would treat my brother pretty unfairly, but that’s just my opinion.
David had been complaining of pains in his feet and legs. The doctors at various hospitals were unsure, but one knew the real answer: You Have Cancer. Ewing’s Sarcoma, to be exact.
Doctors at University of Michigan – CS Mott Children’s Hospital determined that David had a better possibility of surviving if he underwent an amputation below the knee on his right leg. The day after Christmas in 2013, David underwent the procedure successfully along with chemotherapy to keep the cancer at bay.
2014 gave David a chance. He was cancer-free. Though missing a part of his leg, he never let it deter him. He wrestled for the River Valley High School team, participated in drama club productions, did well in school and enjoyed his favorite things: video games, movies and most of all…superheroes.
My brothers and I used to take him to comic conventions to meet stars and check out memorabilia. Though the walks through the massive exhibition halls used to wear him out, he loved every minute of it. He’d talk about it for days and weeks, waiting for the next trip.
At age 16, less than three years after being diagnosed the first time, David’s cancer returned in full force. Not only did David’s cancer spread to his upper body, but it brought with it tumors and immense pain. The doctors at Mott returned to help David and our family. First, with chemotherapy drugs. After the chemo drugs stopped being effective, the decision to switch to radiation occurred. After weeks of trips to Ann Arbor for one hour a day of radiation therapy, living in a hotel for five days a week to rest and recover, David was still in immense pain.
Then, after turning age 17, the unimaginable happened. David’s “good” leg was found to have cancer in and around the knee, in addition to the cancer still lingering in parts of his upper body. The options became less, and the paths became harder to see.
After pain continued to plague his body and mind, David made the decision to forego any further treatment in early 2017.
At around 10:35am on Friday, February 10th, 2017, David Alan Hicks left this earth to become a superhero in another galaxy.
David’s school, River Valley High School in Three Oaks, held a community service to honor his memory and speak to the many things he did for others. I was never more proud to hear how my brother made an impact in a community full of people by simply being himself. He loved others; thought nothing of himself and everything of others. Sure, he had his interests, but he always seemed to put those interests below others happiness and enjoyment.
These sentiments were echoed so many times over the course of the donations and comments on our GoFundMe campaign that we launched to help with medical bills and start a scholarship fund (more on that in a minute). David touched so many people that a patient that spent time at CS Mott with him traveled to the funeral service to pay respects and support our family because he felt David supported him.
To say I, along with my family, are heartbroken is an understatement. In the weeks leading up to his death, Hospice at Home and the Hanson Hospice Center took great care of him. They provided comfort and relief to not only him, but to us as a family, as we began down the road to the end of David’s journey.
Those of you that know me, know that I always seem to be quite chipper. It’s been so hard to be myself over the past couple of weeks. I’ve never cried so much in my life. But most of that came from people telling their stories of David’s superhero ways. It’s just so hard to believe someone so deserving of a seat at the table on Earth is using his powers for good somewhere else.
David loved the performing arts, whether it be movies, TV, dramas and stage shows, theme parks, video games, or other visual arts. So, we intend to allow David’s name to live on as we give the gift of scholarship to High School students in Berrien County that wish to major in a field related to the arts. You can find out more about that here.
Fly high, superhero. We’ll miss you here on earth, but know you’re destined for greater things and that your powers are needed for good elsewhere.