CONWAY, Ark. — An Arkansas family is flying back and forth from New York City to treat their daughter’s cancer.
Nova Stokes is a one-year-old from Conway. For the past three months, she’s been fighting stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma cancer, but her parents say most days she takes treatment like a champ.
Dancing, jumping, and smiling. That’s her typical demeanor, but some days are harder.
In March, Nova Stokes was rushed to the emergency room at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She has three tumors. One large on top of her right kidney and she has two smaller tumors inside of her left kidney.
Her parents, Nicolette and Kevin had to find the best option for treatment quickly. “We really wanted to give Nova the best shot we could,” Nicolette explained.
After research, one family who had been in the same situation before recommended the number one neuroblastoma cancer center in the United States, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. In Nicolette’s words, “We’ve only got one shot”, so they packed their bags for New York.
“Life has totally been totally turned upside down for us,” she said. “Just having to fly back and forth, we’re really not able to work at our jobs on a consistent basis.”
With four rounds of chemotherapy, Nova’s full head of hair has fallen out. Her father, Kevin Stokes, had been growing his dreads for 10 years but shaved it all making himself a match to cheer her.
“You could tell she knew the difference because she kind of looked at me funny and then she started rubbing my head and slapping it and stuff like that, so yeah, I did that for her,” Kevin said.
This journey the Stokes family is going on is being called Nova’s Narrative. Hundreds of thousands of people have watched it unfold on social media, but the parents said the video blogs started just to brighten each other’s days.
“She can sense when we’re down, so we try to stay as positive as we can, so we can keep her spirits up,” Kevin said.
On July 6, Nova will be having surgery to remove her tumors, and her doctors advised the family is in New York City until then to keep her healthy. So they are putting work and income on the sidelines, to keep family first.
“She’s definitely been keeping us going as well,” Nicolette said of Nova. “Every day she’s smiling and playing and as long as we can see her doing that, we’re good.”
Sunday, June 19, marks the end of International Neuroblastoma Awareness Week. If you are able to donate, you can find a link to the Stokes’s GoFundMe here. Prayers are also encouraged. If you would like to continue following Nova’s Narrative, they have accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
“We still have quite a bit of a journey left. Though her surgery is next month, there are still more months to go,” Kevin said. “Whether you donate $100, $1, 50 cents it doesn’t matter. Any donation we get we really appreciate.”