5-year-old channels superhero strength to fight cancer

Logan Green adores Superman. He reads the comics. He wears the Superman emblem. He wants to fight bad guys when he grows up. Even his immobilization mask for proton therapy was emblazoned with the iconic “S.” For 5-year-old Logan, the Man of Steel was a comfort and an inspiration as he battled one of his biggest villains yet.

Three Days to Live

In June, Logan walked into his parent’s room in the middle of the night, complaining of a headache. Minutes later, he collapsed. After he was airlifted to an Arizona hospital, Logan was diagnosed with an aggressive and inoperable brain tumor. His doctor gave him three days to live.

“It was just unbelievable for us to have our child go from so healthy to three days to live,” says Logan’s mother, Crisandra. “I kept saying, ‘How could this be? There has to be something you can do.’ And the doctor actually reached for my hand and said, ‘Look at me. There’s nothing we can do. Your son’s not going to make it, and you need to figure out how to accept that.’”

At their friends’ urging, Crisandra and her husband Richard sent Logan’s information to Phoenix Children’s Hospital for a second opinion.

That night, the doctor on the floor woke them with news. A neurosurgeon had looked at Logan’s MRIs and believed a portion of the tumor could be removed. “That was a game changer,” Crisandra says. “Even knowing there was a small chance that he could be better was probably the greatest gift I’ve ever received in my life.”

The next day, Logan was airlifted to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. After the surgery, the doctor told them, “I’m not supposed to say this as a doctor and a surgeon, but I’m actually giddy right now. Because his surgery went the best it could have possibly gone. And we think we got everything.”

Crisandra, who was nine months pregnant at the time, almost went into labor. “I got so excited that my contractions came on like crazy,” she says. Six days later, their son Peyton was born. For the Greens, it was two amazing miracles in one week.

Superhero Strength

From his first day in the hospital, Logan channeled the strength of his favorite superheroes. After he was intubated, the nurses removed the wrist restraints that prevent patients from ripping out the respirator. Logan reached up to his mouth, felt the respirator and never touched it again. The nurses told Crisandra they had never seen a 5-year-old exhibit that kind of calm.

A day after his surgery, Logan asked to be taken off pain medication. “He wanted to deal with the pain rather than feel funny,” Crisanda explains. “He’s a fighter. He’s so strong, so we named him Superman. If there is a real superhero, it’s definitely him.”

Back to a Normal Kid

With a plush Superman at his side, Logan spent 30 days in the intensive care unit then two weeks in rehabilitation following his surgery. To prevent the cancer from returning, Logan required radiation to kill any remaining cancer cells.

Crisandra and Richard chose proton radiation therapy after learning about the reduced side effects of the treatment. The precision of the pencil-sized proton beam causes less damage to surrounding tissue than standard radiation treatment and helps preserve cognitive function.

“The fact that it reduces long-term effects by so much was worth it,” Crisanda explains. “He’s such a smart kid. It would be awful to take that away from him.”

In August, Logan began daily treatments at Rady Children’s Hospital at Scripps Proton Therapy Center in San Diego, California. “The doctors were amazing. They really treated Logan like he was their own,” Crisandra says.

After 33 rounds of proton treatment, Logan and his family went home in September. Crisandra notes that there have been few side effects. “He had a little bit of nausea, but not much. Towards the end, he got tired. That only lasted a couple weeks. He’s getting back to being a normal kid now.”

Logan will be starting preschool soon. His energy is up, and he’s back to being the family comedian, Crisandra says. “It’s so good to see our Logan is back,” she added. “It’s something we didn’t know we’d see again.”