Camden County police officers help Ben Graham, 3, learn to drive his own patrol car Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, at his home in Elmer, New Jersey. Ben is fighting Stage IV neuroblastoma.
Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
CAMDEN COUNTY, N.J.
A group of police officers in New Jersey made a young cancer patient’s day on Monday when they gifted him with his own patrol car, and a stuffed K-9 to ride along with him.
Ben Graham, 3, of Elmer, is an avid fan of law enforcement officers, particularly police dogs, according to the Courier-Post. Ben is also a fighter, having survived neuroblastoma at the age of 18 months.
Ben’s mother, Amanda Graham, took the boy and his siblings to a Touch a Truck event a few weeks ago, where Ben met several Camden County police officers and got to see their vehicles and equipment up close. He was fascinated with the gear and the dogs, Camden County police Officer Allen Williams told the Courier-Post.
The officers, in turn, were touched by Ben’s story.
“We all have kids and families,” Williams said. “This type of illness touches us all, and we wanted to do something genuine and sincere to make him feel a little better.”
Williams and his fellow K-9 officers pooled their money and bought Ben a kid-sized truck that they customized to look like a Camden County K-9 patrol unit, complete with a sticker that warns passersby, “Caution: Police dog.”
The police dog is a stuffed German Shepherd.
The police department took to Facebook to share photos of the officers’ visit, which delighted not only Ben, but his siblings as well. The children got to watch a demonstration showing how a K-9 captures a suspect, and Ben chased the officers around the yard with his stuffed dog, barking at them, the Courier-Post said.
Ben underwent surgery to remove a Stage I, low-risk tumor the size of a golf ball from his adrenal gland, at which time doctors were optimistic about the outcome. Post-op scans conducted in January 2016 showed, however, that the tumor had returned.
This time, it was wrapped around both kidneys and a major artery, the fundraising page said. Doctors diagnosed Ben with Stage IV high-risk cancer.
Chemotherapy shrunk the tumor enough to allow surgeons to remove about 97 percent of the cancer. Doctors also performed a bone marrow transplant and put Ben through several rounds of immunotherapy to keep the cancer from returning once again.
The Grahams were preparing an “end-of-treatment party” for Ben in June when more scans showed the toddler had relapsed, the page said.
“Unfortunately, there is no cure for relapsed neuroblastoma. But Ben and his family aren’t quitters,” the family’s post read. “They are currently awaiting a new clinical trial. Ben will be one of three children to receive an experimental treatment in pill form, which has shown success in adult lung cancer patients. He will start this trial around Labor Day.”