CNN correspondent Rene Marsh has revealed that her two-year-old son Blake has died of pediatric brain cancer while paying tribute to the ‘inspirational’ toddler in a heartbreaking Instagram post.
The 38-year-old, who is based in Washington, D.C., shared the devastating news on Thursday evening, 16 months after her son was first diagnosed with the disease.
Posting a series of sweet photos of her ‘dear sweet Blake aka “Blakey”‘, Rene wrote of how her son, who died on April 14, has ‘forever changed’ her, saying: ‘In your 25 months on earth you taught me how much strength I had stored up in reserve that I didn’t know I had.
‘You taught me endurance. You taught me a depth of love I have never experienced. You inspired me to keep going when I wanted to give up. You helped me prioritize what is truly important in this life.
‘I am forever changed because of you, my son. I feel blessed and honored to have been your mom. I wish we had more time together but I’m grateful for the time we had.’
The on-screen journalist went on to praise her son’s ‘ability to bring laughter and happiness into whatever room he was in’, while sharing Blake’s love of classical music, dancing, and spending time outside.
‘Your party tricks included telling me “no,” no matter what question I asked, hugging and kissing on demand, and your dance moves were top-notch,’ she wrote.
‘The good times we shared are forever in my heart. You loved being outside. You loved cruising the neighborhood in your drop-top electric car, with the music on as you tried so hard to snap your fingers. You loved humming classical music. Your favorite was Mozart’s Serenade no. 13.’
Rene first revealed that Blake was battling pediatric brain cancer in February 2020, two months after she and her husband Kedric Payne were given the devastating diagnosis by their son’s doctors.
At the time, she revealed that doctors had found ‘a fast-growing tumor’ in the center of Blake’s brain, and soon after, her son underwent brain surgery to try and remove the malignant growth, before starting a course of chemotherapy treatment.
Blake was in remission for six months, and ‘even rang the bell symbolizing his last chemo treatment’, Rene revealed in an opinion piece for CNN, but in November of last year, doctors revealed that the ‘cancer was back, and it had spread’.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Rene opened up about the devastating toll that her son’s cancer battle had on their family while calling for people to wear face masks in order to protect anyone who is at greater risk from the illness, like her son.
n her Instagram post, she spoke of the agony of her grief, explaining that she is mourning not only the loss of her beloved son, but the loss of her motherhood.
‘I didn’t just lose you Blakey, I lost all the dreams and hopes that a mom has for a son,’ she shared.
‘I lost my motherhood and I’m mourning it all.’
Rene added that she will dedicate herself to ‘fighting pediatric cancer for the rest of her life’ in order to ensure that no other parents have to endure the ‘unbearable pain’ of losing a child, and to ‘forever honor’ her late son.
‘I am dedicated to fighting pediatric cancer for the rest of my life. I will do it not just to spare other parents from this unbearable pain but I will do it to forever honor you, Blake,’ she said.
‘Your life was not in vain my sweet angel. Mommy loves you and I look forward to holding and kissing you when we meet again.’
In a post shared on Twitter hours later, Rene paid tribute to the doctors at Johns Hopkins hospital, who ‘cared for and loved Blake over the past year and a half’.
When Rene first revealed that her son was battling brain cancer, she admitted that she had been ‘very reluctant’ to share details about the ‘deeply personal life circumstance’, but had come to the realization that opening up about it publicly ‘could do more good than harm’.
Over the next 22 months, Rene shared several updates on her son’s condition, and in February of this year, she once again warned of the devastating impact that COVID-19 has on at-risk children like Blake.
‘As a mother who is watching her toddler fight brain cancer, I have had to confront a sad realization,’ she wrote in a piece for CNN.
‘Vulnerable children, like the ones I see here on the pediatric oncology floor every day, may become collateral damage of this pandemic without ever contracting the virus.’
Rene shared a post about the ‘signs of childhood cancer’ on her Instagram Stories on Thursday evening, explaining that parents can use the word ‘labybirds’ to remember what to look out for.
The symptoms include loss of weight, sickness or nausea, discomfort or pain, disturbance in vision, headaches, persistent swelling or lumps, and recurrent high fevers.
According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, around 15,780 children between the ages of birth and 19 are diagnosed with cancer in the US each year.
Brain and spinal cord tumors are the second most common cancers in children after leukemia and account for one in every four childhood cancer cases. The American Cancer Society estimates that around 4,000 brain and spinal cord tumors are diagnosed each year in children and teens.
‘Malignant brain and spinal cord tumors are slightly more common in boys, while non-malignant tumors are slightly more common in girls,’ the organization adds.