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Hope For Today, Hope For The Future—Joshua’s Story 

“We knew there was a possibility that he would get cancer,” Rebecca, Joshua’s mama bear shared. Her husband and Joshua’s papa bear, John, carries a gene that makes him 87% likely to develop cancer in his lifetime. Knowing the possibility of that gene being passed on to their three boys—Christopher age 7, Joshua age 4, and Lucas age 1—each boy was tested for the gene at 18 months old. When both Christopher and Joshua tested positive for the gene, their parents knew they had a significantly increased chance of developing cancer. As a precaution, both boys will undergo a full-body MRI scan annually for their entire lives. 

 “These scans take hours, so I knew to just hunker down with a book in the waiting room while the boys were sedated for their MRIs,” Rebecca shared. She had experienced several annual scans for Christopher and knew what to expect when they arrived at VCU Medical Center for Joshua’s first scan. But she noticed a very significant difference in the circumstances at Joshua’s scan appointment. “While I was waiting for Joshua’s scan, some very important looking, well-dressed people came to talk to me, and I knew it was cancer, because if it wasn’t, it would have been a tech or a nurse in scrubs that came to talk to me like they had for all of Christopher’s scans.” 

Joshua’s MRI revealed a cancerous tumor known as rhabdomyosarcoma on a muscle in his thigh. Plans were quickly made for Joshua to have surgery to remove the tumor, and consequently, the muscle it attached to. Rebecca and John leaned into their faith in God and prayed fervently for their son. Joshua underwent surgery and had the muscle and the tumor removed. Although his doctors found no evidence of the tumor in any surrounding cells, he began chemotherapy immediately following his surgery to get rid of any cancer cells that might be hiding. 

Although both Christopher and Joshua were too young to truly understand all that was going on, they both felt the challenges of how their lives had changed. When the opportunity came for Joshua to receive a playset from Roc Solid Foundation, Rebecca and John knew it would be a perfect surprise for their boys. 

“It was the most perfect group for them,” John shared. A local motorcycle group, Iron Order, had been raising money to build a playset with Roc Solid all year and were all very excited to be matched with Joshua’s family. Although the boys didn’t know why their new friends were at their house, they were elated when they heard the deep rumbling of the dozens of motorcycles coming down their long driveway. 

“All three boys were outside in their underwear jumping up and down when they heard the motorcycles,” John shared, “they were so excited that we couldn’t even get clothes on them when they pulled up that morning.” The awesome group of volunteers helped the boys build small parts of their playset, even though they didn’t know what they were helping to build. As the pieces started to come together, the family went inside for the big reveal. 

When the boys saw their playset for the first time, they were thrilled! “They were very excited about the bubbles and the chalk, but their eyes were as wide as saucers when they saw the playset.” 

“When Joshua was first diagnosed, there was such a loss of hope and optimism. So something like the playset was so impactful because we wouldn’t want a playset if we weren’t thinking about the future and if we didn’t have years of play to look forward to,” Rebecca shared. “It gives me strength to be optimistic for the future.” 

Thanks to the power of community and teams like Iron Order, we are able to be there for more families like Joshua’s during such terrible circumstances. We may not be able to change the fact that they have cancer, but we can change the way they fight it, and one thing is for sure—play always defeats cancer. 

Watch Joshua’s full story on YouTube and subscribe to be notified when more family stories are available. 

If you or your team is interested in sponsoring a playset for a kiddo fighting cancer like Joshua, email us at for more info.