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Family organizes a fall festival in honor of their 13-year-old son who died of cancer

Happening Nov. 3 at Arundel Middle School
Posted at 5:49 PM, Oct 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-31 17:53:16-04

In the fall of 2017, everything seemed normal for Susan Fischer's middle child, Ian.

He was going to school, hanging out with friends and spending practically every free moment playing soccer.

Around Thanksgiving, Fischer says Ian started to have minor backaches. A month later, those aches went from minor to major.

"He had just this explosion of pain," she said. "It took all of about 10 to 15 minutes before we were on our way to the hospital."

After multiple tests and scans, doctors found a mass on Ian's left kidney and discovered cancer had spread to his lungs.

"Ultimately what we found out was it was a type of cancer not even the physicians at Johns Hopkins had ever seen, at least not in a child," Fischer said.

A rare cancer diagnosis meant very few treatment options. They did remove his kidney but chemo and radiation weren't viable options. Fischer says her son tried to remain upbeat, but he knew the severity of the situation.

"What worried him the most when he came out of surgery is would he ever be back to his healthy soccer-playing self," she said.

For months, Ian and his family fought to keep his health and spirit intact. For his 13th birthday in mid-March, Fischer invited their family members over to celebrate, showering him with presents and love.

"It wasn't but 24 hours later he was not doing well and I think that was the last time we spoke with him," Fischer said.

She says Ian's heart and lungs kept pushing until the very end. On March 31, her soccer-loving son with the bright smile passed away. 

His family chose to cremate him and took his ashes on a trip out west to spread them in places they had visited over the years. They documented the trip on a Facebook group called Ian's Journey.

"We were very blessed to have a lot of incredible times as a family and it felt good to be able to be in those places and remember him," Fischer said.

Celebrating Ian's life continues on November 3 with a fall festival Fischer and family friends are organizing to coincide with the last day of the fall soccer season for the Arundel Soccer Association.

"It was very clear to me that helping to promote what he loved the most would be a good thing for us," she said. "[It] gives us all an outlet to show how much Ian meant to us and to honor his memory."

The fall festival is happening from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the soccer fields at Arundel Middle School in Odenton on November 3. There will be games like soccer tennis and futsol and other family-friendly activities. There will also be food and a photo booth. Donations are encouraged but not required to attend. Ian's family plans to donate the money to pediatric cancer research and outreach efforts.