Walk into the Binkard family’s Fargo home, and you’re likely to see 4-year-old Oskar racing from room to room, giggling mischievously — often disguised as one of his favorite superheroes.
“He’s our wild child,” said his mom, Samantha, with a sigh and a smile. Oskar’s dad, David, nods in agreement. “He’s definitely a ball of energy.”
It takes a lot to slow down their youngest child. So two years ago, when Oskar was knocked down by a cold he couldn’t quite kick, Samantha and David had cause for concern.
“We all got over the cold, and he didn’t,” Samantha said. “Then all of a sudden, his legs started to hurt. Then it got to the point where he didn’t want to walk.”
The Binkards brought Oskar to a nearby clinic where they learned they were facing something far more serious than a cold. The doctor directed them to take Oskar to the hospital immediately.
“There was something wrong with his blood counts,” Samantha said. “The doctor said, ‘We think there’s a malignancy.’ I had to stop and think what that word was. I was like, ‘Does that mean cancer?’
“You hear cancer and you instantly think of death. That’s the first thing that comes to mind … that you’re going to lose your baby.”
‘How did we not know?’
The first time the family met Dr. Samuel Anim, a pediatric cancer specialist at the Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo, North Dakota, he took one look at Oskar and saw what tests would later confirm: Oskar — just 2 years old at the time — had leukemia. The Binkards were shocked and confused.
“Part of it was, how did we not know? How did we not notice how sick he was?” Samantha said.
The family put their faith in the specialists at Roger Maris, who worked together to personalize a treatment plan for Oskar.
Dr. Anim, the nurses, Child Life team and staff also proved to be a good support system for Oskar and his family. Dr. Anim explained things clearly to Oskar’s parents, and spoke with Oskar in a playful and friendly manner.
“When you’re there, you feel like you have such a team behind you,” Samantha said.
Oskar returned that support in his own comical way: by running through the halls of the hospital wearing different costumes each week. One day, he was a witch; another day, Superman.
Welcoming the whole family
“The nurses would watch to see what costumes he was going to wear each time,” David said.
“One day, well after Christmas, he was like, ‘I gotta be an elf!’” Samantha said, remembering the time he came jingling into the clinic, decked out head to toe in red and green.
In addition to the expert care, small details — from a Captain America IV stand to warm greetings from staff — added up to make a big difference for the entire family, including Oskar’s older brother, Paxton.
“They’d say, ‘Oskar is here!’ We’d never met them, but they were so excited to see him and welcoming,” Samantha said. “They care about what he likes, they care about his family. Whenever Paxton is there, they’ve always made him feel at home and welcome.”
After two exhausting phases of treatment, Samantha got the call they’d been praying to receive.
“We hit full remission,” she said. “One of the nurses was so relieved. She told me that she kept his results on the desk next to her all day. She would just look down, and she was so happy and relieved for my kid who she’s only known for two months.
“You know you’re doctoring at the right place when they have that much compassion for people they barely know,” Samantha added.
2019 61 For 61 Honorary Chair
This fall, Oskar will help celebrate the 21st annual 61 For 61 Radiothon as the Honorary Chair. 61 For 61 recognizes American professional baseball player Roger Maris who smashed 61 home runs in 1961 and set a new single-season home run record.
Tune in to 107.9 The FOX on Friday, Sept. 6, to meet Oscar and hear from many other survivors, patients and families who count on Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center. Join us in the fight and make a gift today.
Your support will keep Roger Maris on the cutting edge of cancer discovery and care, helping save more lives close to home.
Looking for more ways to make a difference?
Show your cancer-fighting spirit at these other inspiring upcoming events:
61 For 61 Radiothon
- When: Sept. 6, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Where: Family Fare on 1100 13th Ave. E., West Fargo, North Dakota
- What to expect: Live broadcast on 107.9 The FOX with Robbie, Dave and Moose, sharing stories of courage and hope from Family Fare. Stop by to enjoy family-friendly activities all day, including a silent auction, cookout, honor/memorial wall and 61-cent tacos at all Taco John’s in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo.
- Give now: Help kick off the radiothon with a gift today.
Night Out for 61 For 61
- When: Sept. 13, from 5 to 9 p.m.
- Where: Wild Rice Bar and Grill, Wild Rice, North Dakota
- What to expect: Join 107.9 The FOX radio DJs Robbie, Dave and Moose as they take over the Wild Rice Bar & Grill to support the Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center. Come out and enjoy great food, fun and prizes.
Home Run Walk
- When: Sept. 14, on-site registration opens at 9 a.m.
- Where: 321 8th Ave. N., Fargo, across from the Sanford Roger Maris Cancer Center
- What to expect: Round up and register your team for this ever-popular fundraising event. Festivities will be set up in downtown Fargo. All ages and skill levels are welcome to walk or run the course at your own pace during the 5K or 1-mile paths. You can register at sanfordhealthfoundation.org/homerun. It’s going to be a fun morning and we hope to see you there.
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