If you had met Corey Kerrin of Jacksonville, FL in December of 2022, you would have noticed a fun loving, energetic 11-year old, similar to most other kids his age. He loved Tik Tok, funky, fresh new haircuts and drawing. But if you knew Corey well, you’d have noticed subtle changes suddenly develop, as his mother Shanika Safford did, just weeks earlier.
Shanika noticed her oldest son’s eyes would shift sideways, even while talking directly to her.
“I said, ‘Baby, look at me directly, in my face.’ He said, ‘I see two of you.’”
Shanika figured her son simply needed glasses, but multiple doctor visits ultimately led to the unimaginable. Corey was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), for which there is currently no cure.
“How can a mother explain to an 11-year-old that there is no cure for his terrible disease. He can’t understand that,” Safford said. So I just had to do it the best way I knew how without going into the depths of everything that is eventually going to unfold.”
“When you know your child is going through something that can’t be controlled or cured and day by day passes by and you don’t know what the next second is going to bring…. You worry you should do something different, even though you know your’re doing the best you can.”
Corey is currently undergoing radiation under the care of Dr. Darren Klawinski, a pediatric neuro-oncologist at Nemours Children’s Health in Jacksonville, FL. Corey is looking forward to his 12th birthday in October and is grateful for the support from his family and community.
When people ask Corey how he stays so strong, he credits his 4 other siblings and many cousins with keeping him busy. His treatments have made him much less active than he was a year ago, but he still loves to spend time with his family, watching TV and playing video games.
“My son has big dreams for his future and has his entire life ahead of him,” said Shanika. “I wish for him all of those things.”