Ian Keisacker has been a fan of Star Wars since he was a small youngling.
On night in 2009 there was a disturbance in the force. Ian woke up around 4:30am screaming of a headache and within a half hour he became unresponsive.
His parents rushed him to the ER and within 30 minutes he was in surgery. Seven hours later, the neurosurgeon, Dr. Abbassi, removed a 5cm tumor from the back of Ian’s head. He told Ian’s parents that if they had waited any longer, he would not have survived. The next day, to get his spirits up, his parents told him the doctors had discovered that he had a higher midi-chlorian level than Yoda or Anakin.
The day after surgery, the hospital ran tests and discovered that Ian had an abnormal tumor. To keep his spirits up, while he was in the hospital, his classmates from the Holy Spirit Catholic School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, made him over 200 Star Wars cards to hang in his room. Within seven days Ian was no longer in intensive care and on February 14th, he was well enough to go home.
The fight was far from over. Ian still had to visit the Mayo clinic for radiation treatments. Before he could get his treatments, Ian had to have a special port inserted in him. To help make the port placement easier, his parents showed him pictures of C-3PO with his “restraining bolt”. They told Ian that he was going to get something like it to help him and make things easier. For the remainder of his therapy, Ian always referred to it as his C-3PO Port.
While going through his radiation, he loved watching movies, but the Star Wars films were always a hit. While staying at the Ronald McDonald house, their room was decked out in posters, blankets, toys and other Jedi necessities. One of the anesthesiologists even had a lightsaber app that he let Ian customize his own lightsaber on.
By the end of his treatment, Ian had gone through 32 radiation sessions. After his radiation was complete, the hospital gave him a month off and then it was on to a full year for chemotherapy. All that time, Ian’s parents used his love of Star Wars to keep him strong. Using references from the Star Wars universe to help explain to him what was happening.
During his chemo and radiation, he was asked to be the honored child for the St. Baldricks fundraiser in Sioux Falls. The 501st legion provided the security detail. It was at this event that his father first learned about the 501st legion from Jamie Ladonski, one of Ian’s Storm Trooper guards.
In June 2009, Ian was given a trip to Disney World by the Make-A-Wish foundation. His favorite part was getting have a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader! Ian was able to have a meet in greet with Clone Wars director Dave Filoni, the voice of Asoka; Ashley Eckstein, and Captain Typho himself; Jay Lag’aia. Overall, the Disney employees and Make-A-Wish did a phenomenal job at making it a dream come true.
In April of 2010, Ian completed his Chemo and his “C-3PO” port was removed. All the tests showed he was cancer free!
Today, Ian is 9 years old and 3 years cancer free! His love of Star Wars continues to grow as well as his love of helping others. After losing his hair so often in therapy, Ian now enjoys having his head shaved so he can be a young Savage Opress at 501st events. He loves to troop alongside his father and their 501st legion squad.
Ian and his family are walking in St. Baldricks event for the 3rd year in a row. It It will be Ian’s third year shaving his head at an event that is set up to honor him as well as those with cancer.
This year Ian’s team is The 501st Galactic Legion. His fundraising goal for the event is $500. To help Ian in achieve his goal, please visit his team’s site. Every dollar raised goes to help a child fight harder.
May the Force be with them all!