Death of a Superhero

A Family's Story about Courage, Bravery and the Defining Moments of LOVE

Our sweet, lil' baby love lost his battle to AML Leukemia on March 8, 2010. We fought long, hard and very aggressively for 2.5 years, only to have his cancer come back for the fourth time to finally take his life. He was only 3 years old.

This entire blog is about Hunter's amazing journey. It's about his life and his love......his determination and his courage.......his absolutely, brilliant personality, and the affect he's had on people all over the world.

He's left an unimaginable footprint on this earth and has changed the lives of thousands of individuals. People who didn't realize how precious life was, now live it with extreme gratefulness. People who took every minute they get to spend with their children for granted, now savor every last second. And people who weren't quite sure what love is all about, now love deeper, love stronger and love with every ounce of their soul.

People all around the world have shared their love, their well wishes, their prayers and their inspiration, and we could have NEVER achieved as much as we did without them. We are humbled by their generosity & their true friendships & are forever grateful for every last person that has come into our lives through our experience with Hunter. He was our precious baby love who we loved and cherished with all our hearts and we are forever crushed and terribly, broken-hearted.

Dance in the clouds baby cakes. Mom & dad are watching proudly & you will remain so very close to our hearts for all of eternity.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Party with a Purpose INVITATION

Our fabulous friend Wendy Parker has gone on a Hunter mission. She is one of his biggest fans and has done a tremendous amount in raising money and awareness for our little man. She introduced Matt Emerzian, the author of the book, "Every Monday Matters", to Hunter and he was so touched by the whole story that he decided to sponsor Hunter at their next book signing. From what we can tell, it's going to be quite the event - especially since there's a Paul Stanley autographed guitar being auctioned off. A special KISS for Hunter! Not to mention the Hunter Shoes will also be on display!

I've included the link to the invitation and hope all can attend. It might get a little crowded, but that just makes it easier in spreading the love!

Party with a Purpose Invitation - March 7, 2008

Hot in Hollywood Feature

Below is the feature that was posted on Hunter on Hot in Hollywood.


POSTED - 2/26/2008

Living in Los Angeles, I meet all kinds of special people, but none as inspiring as my friends, Lenore and Zen Todd, who have begun a journey that no parent ever wants to take. Their precious son, Hunter Zen, was diagnosed at 14 months old with AML Leukemia. Since that day in November this incredible family has not stopped fighting. 

Hunkered down at Children's Hospital LA for the last 4 months, Lenore and Zen have gone to great lengths to provide comfort, healing and happiness to their son. (They even know which nurses to bribe for a bigger room with their own bathroom!) The outpouring of support and love for Hunter has been remarkable throughout his chemotherapy treatment and countless diagnostic tests. 

Our little man has captured the hearts of so many. Aldabella Scarpa, a children's shoe company, has named a line of shoes in his honor; Chaz Dean Studio is sponsoring all of Hunter's hair care products, and an email campaign has been started to reach out to Oprah for a mention and a prayer. Hunter's friends even held a sake tasting fundraising event in his honor! On March 7th a "Party with a Purpose" will be held in his honor at the Whisper Lounge at the Grove. Paul Stanley, from Kiss, has donated a signed guitar to be auctioned off at the event! Paul has been a huge fan of Hunters for a long time.

Lenore and Zen (on the ends) with Paul Stanley and his wife, Erin, at the Sake Tasting event.

The passion, dedication and positive outlook that Lenore and Zen have in the face of this monumental challenge is truly an inspiration to all. Zen, a well known LA photographer, has beautifully documented this unexpected journey with his son for hope and inspiration to others. Please join me in sending this awesome family your prayers, positive thoughts and abundant energy for healing. Let us help to make a difference in these three beautiful lives. To learn more about their story and explore was to help, please visit the Healing Hunter Blog.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hunter featured on "Hot in Hollywood"

Our little stud is going to be featured on Hot in Hollywood on Tuesday.

Daddy's new t.............I mean Hunter's new toy.

I think he inherited the "throttle fever"

Daddy is obviously very proud as he road the hell out of his 4-wheeler on his hospital bed..............while getting chemo.

And remained exceptionally calm after he popped a wheelie and flipped his quad. Like father like son.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hospital Admitting Day

Well I'll have to say it felt a little weird coming back into the hospital. It felt very familiar, yet a little strange after being home for 2 1/2 weeks. We are isolated in our own room since Hunter still has a pretty bad cough. But they've told us that since he's not coughing up blood, it's not that big of a concern. We were wondering if we should postpone starting the chemo because of this, but the doctor stressed the importance of starting AML treatments as soon as their bodies are ready because of the risk of it immediately coming back. He's more mobile this time then when we left. Definitely makes it more difficult when he's hooked up to his IV for other fluids. He's not a fan of only being able to go about two feet. He gets frustrated real quick and doesn't quite get it yet.

Zen did a really wonderful job at scoping out the table situation. He casually talked on his phone outside our room so that he could eye up the inventory. By the end of the night, we had our three rolling tables back. YAY!! He's so sneaky.

The third round started at 5:00 today and so far Hunter is taking it like its no big deal. He was real mellow and a little on the quite side. He'll probably sleep from now until morning.

Last picture before we left our house.

Hunter making his way to the elevators. That's his first time actually walking into the hospital on his own!

After we checked in, the first step is an Echocardiogram to make sure there isn't any damage to his heart from the previous chemo treatments that we need to be aware of.

Didn't seem to mind so much this time. Last Echo he wasn't so still.

Here is the nurse injecting benadryl into his IV. He is pre-medicated for his chemo treatments to reduce any possible reaction or side effects.

Once he's hit with the benadryl, he's usually a little sleepy. He'll be in la la land soon.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Words cannot even begin to express........

Hunter recovering from his bone marrow biopsy and spinal tap this last Monday.

I probably shouldn’t write right now. I’m feeling a little scattered and emotional at the moment, but I will try to be as clear as possible. Any woman who has a child, or is expecting or gets a monthly monster knows where I’m at right now.

I just received a letter that was meant to bring a smile to my face. It did indeed bring a smile, however it also brought a serious flow of tears that are still running lightly down my face as I type.

My cherished, precious little boy is sick, and I sometimes forget how serious it is. In the midst of thinking positive, I sometimes put things on the back burner - things that I would rather not spend my time thinking about. I’m reminded often by letters from other people exactly how difficult this battle is for a parent. It’s difficult, it’s gut wrenching, it’s so, so sad and heartbreaking and something I hope you all never have to face.

I hope Mary doesn’t mind, but I’ve posted her letter to me.

Hello Lenore, Zen and Hunter

You don’t know me, we’ve never met. I know the rest of your family. Your mom and dad, who are two of the most generous, loving people I have ever known. And also your brothers and sister, niece and nephew. Your son is my son Sammy’s (3rd?) cousin. I only recently heard of the extent of Hunter’s struggles at a gathering for Erin. I’m very sorry for what you all have been through and what is yet to come. Being the parent of a “healthy” child is a daily roller coaster. To think of all the challenges you have faced and survived is unimaginable. I can only empathize with what you will do to make sure your child is safe and loved and cared for. I have read what has become your daily routine and felt like I was there because of the emotion in your writing. The highs and lows of things that are normally taken for granted have become major milestones. Hunter is an amazing child, as I’m sure you’re well aware.

Being a parent is the greatest, most unexpected gift. But it is all encompassing. So I’ve wanted to do something for myself lately, to make me feel better. It seems every time I go to do anything it’s for Sam or about him. I wanted to be selfish and do something just for me. After reading your journal, I realize the thing I would like most to do is for you and/or Hunter. It seems absurd to send you money, like that would be a cure and no amount would seem large enough. I didn’t want to make a donation to the disease center, it feels impersonal. That being said, enclosed is a gift. I’d like you to use it for something that will make you or Hunter smile for even just 1 minute. Be it flowers or a snuggly teddy bear to comfort him or a (non-hospital) meal, anything you choose, just a small spot of joy. I hope you don’t find this suggestion offensive but taken as it was meant, with best intentions. It doesn’t seem like enough, I wish I could offer more than this and my support. Please know you will be in my thoughts and prayers. I have sent an email to my friends and family to ask for them to do the same.

You are all truly admirable people.

Love and best regards,
Mary (Hammaker)
a.k.a Sam’s Mom


I’ve been overwhelmed by so many amazing emotions over the last 3 months. Emotions that I welcome with open arms. I’m scared to death. I’m beyond appreciative. I’m happy. I’m sad. I’m forever grateful, bewildered, overjoyed…….all sorts on a daily basis. I’m never going to take my childs life for granted. I love my husband tremendously and all that he is and look at him every day with amazement. I couldn’t imagine a more incredible or compatible partner. He makes us feel extremely safe and loved. My son has been extremely heroic and courageous and I’ve already learned valuable life lessons from him in the short time he’s been in our lives. I truly love every last person who has entered into our lives and those that were already so close who have endured our pain and sadness and great accomplishments every step of the way.

Thank you to all of you. We’ve never realized how much love it would take to get through something like this. Every time we think we are ok – something else rears its feared and ugly head. So scary that something as small as a common cold could jeopardize Hunter’s life. And we are so not even close to not ever having to worry. Everyone’s thoughts, prayers, positive energy and generosity has enabled us to continue smiling in Hunter’s face every time we are frightened. They allowed us to hold our heads up as we walk and forced us to think everything’s going to be ok. They’ve given us hope and amazingly pleasant thoughts when we’ve desperately needed them most, and they opened up life and friendship and kindness like we’ve never experienced before.

I bow down to each and every one of you for helping my family survive and carry a piece of you with me every day. That’s truly been the strength I needed.

Goodnight and sweet, sweet dreams.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Healing Hunter Shoe

These shoes were designed on Hunter's behalf from some very lovely friends of ours. Their goal is to bring awareness to others about Hunter and to donate proceeds to us for Hunters future. The owner and her sister started this company with the goal of doing more for others. The company name is "Aldabella Scarpa" which is an Italian version of the most beautiful shoes. They believe that every child is beautiful and hope to create shoes for their beautiful feet! It is their goal to have the "Hunter" shoes online and in retail stores by late Spring.

We are sincerely touched, honored and thrilled. How incredibly neat!

Shoe Update as of 2/14/07 :

Well, we took the sample shoe on the road and the feedback from retail stores for the Hunter shoe has been incredible. We have 2 stores in Orange county that will be placing an order soon. We hired a sales rep yesterday, and she just loved the shoe. We told her the "Hunter shoe" story and she was so excited to support our vision. So, in the next few weeks the shoe will be on display at the LA fashion show, the San Francisco gift show and the Seattle childrens show. There is such a positive energy that has taken a life of its own. We will be adding the brown color to the order, I think that will be a great variety of colors to start with. As soon as we get the samples we'll let you know. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to do something for Hunter and your family. It has truly been a gift to us. Lotsa love, Ann Marie and Monica

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

WEN - Hunter's Hair Sponsor

The Chaz Dean Studio felt as if Hunter's new hair would benefit immensely from their products. This particular Tea Trea cleansing and conditioning and oil is supposed to stimulate the scalp and promote healthy hair growth!

Thanks Chaz!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Goodbye Home Sweet Home

Hunter had clinic on Wednesday and we got the news that his body is ready for the 3rd dose of chemo. His white blood cells and platelet counts had gone way up since we’ve left the hospital and the Oncologist said that the progress he made while at home was amazing.

We’ve been home for 9 days and it’s been absolutely lovely. It was almost like moving back into a mansion. Our house is HUGE compared to the one bedroom dorm room we had back at the hospital. We’ve cooked delicious food, laid around on our couches, unpacked 21 hospital bags, did 11 loads of laundry, organized the house, caught up on work, cleaned up lots of dust bunnies, had friends over, and just enjoyed ourselves away.

We were of course thrilled when we were told Hunter is doing so fantastic. However, we are definitely not looking forward to going back to Hospital living. By the time we left the hospital on February 1st we had our own room, (which meant our own bathroom….which is sooooo appreciated), a bed AND a crib, (you are only allowed one at a time), 3 rolling tables, (we started out with none – those were a hot item.......we traded Hunter’s pudding), two rolling dressers, and 16 pillows. Then in the 74 days that we had been there, we had also moved in two tempurpedic mattresses, a printer/fax/copier, speakers and a receiver, our two laptops, two office file boxes and a bunch more sh#t. Now we’ll have to start again from scratch. Bummer. However we are showing up on admission day with freshly made gourmet rice crispy treats to slide towards the nurses to get our amenities back as soon as possible. Usually works.

Below is Zen moving our stuff out of our hospital room when they sent us home. That was 2 of 8 wagon loads to the car. Not the most fun he's had - but still did it with a smile on his face!

We go in tomorrow at 6am for his bone marrow surgery, which they do after every round to see how successful his body is taking to the treatment. Last test conducted they found 2% of leukemic cells in his body – down from around 48% when we originally started the chemo back in December. They will also stick another dose of chemo in his spine for preventive measures and also run some more blood tests. We usually get preliminary results back sometime in the afternoon. The Doctor said that we can plan on Tuesday morning to move back into the hospital for another 30 day stint.

Hunter looks stronger than ever and he is truly going to be our hero for life. He's been so incredibly courageous and so well tempered and has grown up a tremoundous amount in these last three months. The family bond that has been created between the three of us is indestructible. Our bodies and minds have been challenged in a way like never before, and I think we've realized that life is truly survival of the fittest. We are half way done with treatment and will continue to charge on and live our extremely blessed life with our little man in the best and most enjoyable way we know how and never look back. He is our biggest inspiration.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Hunter's Home !

Finally..............after 74 days, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and my birthday we were finally sent home. The new Oncologist has graciously given us a week to 10 days to be in our own surroundings before we have to go back for the 3rd round of chemo and another 30 days. Hunter's counts aren't exactly as high as they would like them to be before he should be allowed to go, but the Doc felt as if we've been there long enough and Hunter's counts are pretty much moving in the right direction. He also feels as if Hunters progress will improve at a much quicker rate getting out of the environment of the hospital. Needless to say, at home, Hunter has only been still when he's sleeping. He's been speed crawling up and down the hallway a thousand times. He's dancing and wiggling, mostly on all fours, when music comes on. He's eating like a champ and he also took his first 4 solo steps!! We are almost exactly where we were back in the middle of October. Wow. That seems like a twilight zone long time ago.

Hunter is doing amazingly well. His spirits seem high and he appears to be really content now that we are back at the house. He's got that really wonderful twinkle back in his eye when he giggles, and he's giggling often. It's such a neat little giggle that we've missed for months. He's showered with kisses and attention and I don't think a moment goes by that we don't realize exactly how fortunate we are.

The hospital sent us home with his medication and supplies. We've had to give him his medicines twice a day through an oral syringe - he hates this. He completely knows the routine by now and it seems as if you ask him nicely enough, he'll do it. But he definitely does it begrudgingly. A home nurse came today to change his dressing for his central pic line that they just leave in his arm. He's not much of a fan of this either, but the nurse said he did a great job. The worse part is peeling back the mac daddy super glue tape they put over the bandage hole in his arm to keep it safe from infection. It makes him pretty mad and it's another time when he screams like a banshee. But he gets over it quick. We go on Wednesday to what they refer to as clinic and they'll do blood draws to see where his counts are and they'll check vitals and all the other good stuff. Based on where he is at is how they will determine when his body is ready for the next dose of poison. Three more rounds to go!!

This is Hunter standing up on our hospital room window sill on leaving day. He's was super agro active and as you see below.........he exhausted himself.

This is Hunter the night we arrived back at the house. He woke up from his nap and didn't stop until 11:30 that night.

Our little Hero.