Every year, the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon is a platform for families that have been touched by cancer to tell their stories in an effort to raise money that one day might fund a cure. On the second day of 15th annual telethon, the Solders were one of those families.
Nate Solder, his wife Lexi and their 1-year-old son Hudson stopped by the telethon to talk to "Dennis and Callahan with Minihane" to tell their personal story and how some of the world's best medical professionals at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have helped during a difficult time.
While giving Hudson a bath in October 2015, Nate felt a lump on his son's side. A few days later, Nate and Lexi brought Hudson to the hospital. The next week, they brought him to Boston Children' Medical Center for an ultrasound, where they discovered bilateral kidney tumors.
"When we were driving to the hospital we both cried the whole way in, and I think it was a couple of weeks, we just cried all the time," Nate said. "It was really emotional. It was really hard."
Hudson was three months old at the time. Now as a 1-year-old, he goes through chemotherapy treatments once every three weeks.
"He handles it amazingly. I mean, for him it's almost like he doesn't know any different," Lexi said. "He's fine as long as we give him his nausea meds. He's pretty good to go. He has chemo on Tuesday, and we kind of joke in the family that by the weekend he's ready to roll."
This isn't the Solder's first experience with cancer, either. Nate was diagnosed with testicular cancer in April 2014, but his experience was far different than what his son has gone through.
"Even in my cause, it was pretty simple and a straightforward process. I didn't even have chemo or anything like that," Nate said. "I had one surgery, and then it was basically like I didn't have cancer so this has been a lot. Like you said, you'd rather have it yourself than your child have it."
While no family wants to be faced with the trying and exhausting battle that is cancer, the Solders know there is a reason they were in Boston when this happened.
"We don't believe in mistakes. There was a reason I was drafted here. There is a reason we're here, and I signed that extension just in time to know we'd be here for a few more years," Nate said. "Thank God because we know that this is one of the best places in the world for him to be treated."
Nate said that throughout Hudson's battle, football has helped put things in perspective and the game has become a release for him. What used to be one of the biggest stressors in his life, he said, is now "an escape," and Nate said his teammates have been nothing but supportive from the start.
"It was so uplifting the way that my teammates have supported us this whole time," Nate said. "They were putting meals together for us. They were calling us on a weekly basis. They were reaching out to us. Really it went far beyond anything on the football field. It's the human element, like you said. It's been so moving to have guys like that."
In that spirit of supporting the Solders and families like them, Robert and Jonathan Kraft made a $25,000 donation in their honor. The Kraft family has been heavily involved in Dana-Farber for years. Before Myra Kraft passed away after her own battle with cancer, she and Robert founded the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Jonathan said that Nate has been nothing but an inspiration, even before his son's battle.
"Nate and I did an American Cancer Society event for the Fortune 100 CEOs before Hudson was diagnosed, and you should have heard how passionate and brilliant he was when he spoke … I think he made a huge difference," Jonathan said. "Then at an event we were both involved in last spring, Nate just captured a room of 1,200 people speaking passionately about cancer, so it's something that he's being modest about there, but even before Hudson was diagnosed, he understood the importance of using his platform in a positive way and going out and making a difference."
Tom Brady called in not long after Nate's family and the Krafts and spoke to strength of Nate, Lexi and Hudson, and how events like these keep things in perspective.
"I think you do sit back and reflect a lot of times, and it takes some difficult times to realize those things, as well. Nothing of what these parents and families have gone through I've experienced," Tom said. "I can only imagine how difficult that is, and again, I'm sure there's a lot of positives that can come out of these things, as well. I know you guys had Nate on today, and Nate is one of those positive people that I know. It's amazing what he and his family have gone through and the support that they've gotten for little Hudson and we're right there with him."
You can make a donation to help strikeout cancer here.