Editor’s Note: The following is a guest column from Britteny Ferrin, Cale Ferrin’s mother. Cale is an 8-year-old Fanconi anemia patient at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital under the care of Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Physician Margaret MacMillan, MD and our Fanconi anemia care team.
My son, Cale Ferrin, had a dream.
It all started when he heard a commercial on a local radio station asking “Do you want to be a star? Do you want to be on Disney Channel or Nickelodeon?”
“YES!” he screamed while listening to the commercial in the car with his mom and older brother. This 10-second commercial has since changed his life, and made a small dream into reality.
Cale is 8 years old and has Fanconi anemia (FA), a rare, inherited blood disorder that eventually prevents your bone marrow from making new blood cells for your body. Despite logging 26 surgeries and over 100 hospital visits, Cale continues to take life one day at a time with such a positive outlook that he almost seems like a bright ray of light. When making one of his many monthly doctor appointments, he often tests out a new monologue on the doctors and staff, or tells a few comedy skits just to keep them laughing.
Cale is being closely monitored and we travel from Nebraska to Minnesota for annual visits to see Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Physician Margaret MacMillan, MD, and the team of FA specialists at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. I find it very comforting to be able to visit with a team that is so knowledgeable about this rare, life-threatening disease.
It was on our very first visit to Masonic Children’s Hospital in 2014—when Cale was 7 years old—that we finally felt we were not alone on a deserted island, facing this silent and deadly disorder by ourselves. It was during those moments that we could finally exhale knowing we are not alone in this fight. Despite his daily struggles, Cale is determined to bring warmth and kindness to everyone he meets. He truly lights up a room, with his sweet little voice, his smile and BIG hugs. His doctors call him a "Rock Star," and we couldn’t agree more.
Cale’s journey to the spotlight began when he auditioned for talent scouts in Omaha last March. He was chosen to be one of four people to represent Nebraska in Los Angeles, California at the International Presentation of Performers (iPOP) Showcase. In the summer of 2014, Cale traveled from Omaha to Los Angeles to perform at the iPOP Showcase. Cale represented the state of Nebraska and competed in acting and modeling categories, against 600 other contestants from the United States, Canada and Australia. Cale returned to Omaha with seven high-honor awards for each of the seven categories in which he competed. Cale also received over 20 call-backs from top agencies in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, for both modeling and acting.
Cale is now signed with a modeling agency, talent agency and talent management company, all based in Los Angeles. He continues to train with top acting coaches in the industry, and has recently updated his acting profile with a personality slate shot and a personality reel (mini-movie).
We anticipate that Cale will need a bone marrow transplant at some point, when it is needed. To prepare, we have already begun the planning stages by saving umbilical cord blood from his little sister—who is his matched sibling donor. If we could pick anyone to join us in this fight, it most definitely is Dr. MacMillan and her team. Cale couldn’t be in better hands.
Cale hopes that his story not only inspires other kids his age to pursue their dreams, no matter how small they may be, but also wants to encourage special needs kids that—no matter your challenge—don’t let it take away from your dream. When asked if it bothered him that he looks “different” from the other kids, he told one agent, “I’m not any different than anyone else in this room.” No matter what life has going against him, he still continues to inspire others to follow their dreams.As Cale says, “You can do anything you dream of, you just need to take the chance!”