Wyatt Rodart: Live Like Wyatt
If 5-year-old Wyatt Rodart wasn’t busy making you laugh, he was dancing like no one else was watching and smiling with his entire being. “But if you got too distracted by that grin,” said mom Chrissy,” you’d find yourself getting pummeled in card games of all kinds. Especially the memory card game, which could have led to a career as a Vegas card counter.”
As they sat there in the hospital room, still trying to process this news, the doctor then curtly informed Chrissy that “proceeding with a biopsy would not save Wyatt, but it will save children in 10 years.” The family was horrified. Disgusted to learn that over the years there had been no progress in treatment, they went home feeling hopeless.
But May 1, 2019, would become the last normal day for Chrissy and Jake Rodart. Earlier that week, Wyatt began experiencing painful headaches that would leave him exhausted. What they thought would be a quick visit to the pediatrician led to an urgent trip to Madera Children’s hospital, a 2.5-hour drive from their home in Taft, CA. On Thursday, May 2, the family was given the unthinkable news that Wyatt had terminal brain cancer. They were told that their charming, innocent child had just 9 months to live.
Wyatt immediately began a 13 round radiation treatment with a team at the University of California, San Francisco. By then, Chrissy had come to a very firm conclusion. “Our challenges will not defeat our intent to live this life.” The family began to focus on two things: making incredible memories each and every day, and fighting this monster called DIPG.
After Wyatt’s radiation treatments, the family began to look for a clinical trial. They reached out to several doctors throughout the United States, but were only contacted by Dr. Carl Koschmann of Michigan Medicine, who also treated Chad Carr. His only requirement for the trial was that Wyatt must give a tissue sample. After much consideration, the Rodart family decided to move forward with a biopsy.
Initially diagnosed with DIPG, the biopsy of Wyatt’s tumor revealed he actually had a PFA Ependymoma (Posterior Fossa Ependymoma type A). Further study revealed that DIPG may have more molecular and genetic similarities to other pediatric brain tumors than previously thought. This was a huge step towards understanding the complex biology of the leading cancer killer in children.
Wyatt Rodart took on cancer with the same attitude he took on the rest of life: competitively, stubbornly, and determined to win. He fought valiantly for 18 months, before losing his battle on his 7th birthday, November 12, 2020. Wyatt was the epitome of courage and strength, and he loved in a unique and precious way with each person in his life. We should all #LiveLikeWyatt.