The kids and the doctors you see on Upstate Medical University banners and billboards are real kids and real doctors.
Meet Noah Axtell, who is now 7.
Maybe you saw him on a billboard, or on a banner hanging inside Destiny USA mall. He’s grinning, next to Irene Cherrick, MD, the pediatric oncologist who takes care of him.
Noah is a second-grader who lives near Sylvan Beach with his mom, Tonia; dad, Jesse; and older sister, Xenia.
When he was 3 years old, Noah began saying his neck hurt. His stomach was becoming distended. Tonia Axtell says she knew something wasn’t right. At Upstate’s pediatric emergency department, she says doctors discovered a rare kind of kidney cancer called a Wilms tumor growing on his kidney.
Noah underwent chemotherapy at the Upstate Cancer Center to help shrink the tumor before having surgery to remove the tumor and one of his kidneys.
Afterward, he underwent radiation and more chemotherapy.
Axtell says her son is healthy now. He still sees Cherrick every six months.
It was after a visit to see her that Axtell stopped with Noah at the Syracuse mall before returning home. A friend told her about the banner, and Axtell wanted to show Noah.
Looking at the photo she took of him in front of his banner, she says, “He very much thinks he’s famous.”
This article appears in the fall 2019 issue of Cancer Care magazine.