LAKEWOOD, Ohio - When Nick Gilbert, the 14-year-old son of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, represented his father’s basketball team at the NBA lottery, he did more than bring the team luck.
He changed an 8-year-old Lakewood boy’s life.
“Bow tie, glasses, we look alike!” Josh Ferry said of Gilbert, just minutes before undergoing his chemotherapy treatment at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. Josh and Nick look almost identical when you compare Josh’s First Communion picture to Nick’s appearance on national television.
[To see Josh tell the story in his own words, watch Live on 5 tonight at 5 p.m., or check back here to newsnet5.com ]
Nick and Josh both have a disorder called neurofibromatosis, or NF1. There are various kinds of NF and a wide range of prognoses for it, but the tumors that come with it can be disabling, robbing patients of their vision, their ability to learn and speak; it can take their life.
Josh has an optic pathway glioma, a tumor growing near his pituitary. Surgery would almost guarantee taking his sight completely, so Josh is enduring his third round of chemo.
His tumor is not cancerous, but chemo can help shrink the tumor before it becomes more damaging. Sometimes tumors that come with NF can turn into cancer.
Dr. Deborah Rukin Gold, M.D., Josh’s pediatric neurologist at Rainbow said about one in 4,000 people is affected by NF. She said patients often present with café-au-lait spots on their skin and further exploration can find small nerve tumors that grow anywhere on the body where there’s a surface nerve.
Dr. Gold didn’t see the NBA lottery but her husband let her know immediately that Dan Gilbert had made the decision to cast light on the complex disorder by allowing his son to represent the team the national spotlight.
She said she thought it was an incredible gesture for a man of his stature in the sports world.
“Especially where perfection is felt to be the key to success, that he would take his son who has a disorder that’s visible to the world and put him on camera, make him a celebrity, that’s pretty incredible” she said.
No one was happier than Josh to see Nick up on that stage, except maybe his dad, Kevin, who was ecstatic to see Dan Gilbert open his heart in the way he did.
“I can truly understand what he goes through, not as a Cavs owner, but as a father,” he said.
Josh predicted the Cavs will have a winning season and his father said his son knows what he’s talking about.
“He’s a sharp kid.”
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