DALLAS –– Trey Sampson isn’t going to die from a cough attack.
The 13-year-old told that to his mother on Thursday as she patted his back until he was done with them. No, the cough may not kill him, but he knows now that cancer will.
"Doctors came in yesterday and said they pretty much can't save me from my cancer,” says Trey. “It doesn't really matter to me because death isn't anything you should be afraid of because it's going to come one day.”
In September, Trey ran across the goal line to score a symbolic touchdown for his Balch Springs Middle School Jaguars. His team, coaches, friends and family cheered him on.
That story prompted an outpouring of support. People around the world followed Trey’s journey, supporting him with words of encouragement. Many have made financial contributions through a Go Fund Me sitehttp://www.gofundme.com/4fafy4 set up to help pay medical bills, which have tallied in the hundreds of thousands.
But the osteosarcoma –– the type of bone cancer that led to the amputation of his left arm ––has spread. He is currently at Children’s Medical Center where doctors told the family a tumor has wrapped itself around his lung. It has robbed him of the ability to walk and sometimes to breathe.
"When it hurts to breathe, when it hurts to move, when it hurts to talk, when it hurts to stand, when you're weak,” says Kimberly Sampson, Trey’s mother, “You know, suffering. Nobody deserves it. Nobody. Especially not a 13-year-old little boy."
Being sedentary, unable to play outside, has been hard for the 7th grader. He wanted to be a marine biologist. Now he dreams about other things.
"I was coughing,” recalls Trey of a recent dream, “And I coughed up the tumors but then I kind of choked on them and threw them up all over the floor."
Kimberly Sampson says she was in denial for a long time after the diagnosis. Acceptance has given this family, which includes two younger sisters, the time to savor every moment, smile, joke and tease.
"I can't change it if I want to. I can't change it if I tried. Oh, I wish that I could,” she said. "Now I'm just to the point where I let go, let go and let God and it's his will whatever happens."
"I’m really not scared because we're all going to die one day,” Trey said. “Like tomorrow isn't promised to anybody."
Doctors have told the family that time for Trey is “pressing.” His mother half-heartedly jokes that he doesn’t have an expiration date.
“If you have cancer you have to live every day to its fullest,” says Trey, in between scoops of ice cream. “You have to act like every day is your birthday and just party.”
The family hopes his story will bring attention to osteosarcoma. They hope a cure in the future could save other children from suffering. For months, Trey Sampson's inspiring fight for life has taught all who surround him the meaning of strength.
Now, his peace with death is teaching them about courage.