Ky Nodora is like a lot of teenagers and loves gaming, but it's safe to say most 14-year-olds don't play on a PC that they build themselves.
"I was able to build my gaming PC, set up all the things and, like, that was really fun. At least to me, it was very interesting and I loved it,” Ky Nodora said.
Ky learned how to build a PC while watching videos from his hospital bed. Nearly four years ago, at age 10, the boy from Volo was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
"It kind of shocked me when I heard I had cancer. I mean, I didn't know what kind of cancer, but I knew that, like, it was bad," Ky said.
"It was like a flip of a coin. From that day moving forward, everything changed, not just for Ky, but for the rest of us, even for his brothers," said Lovely Ranoa-Chica, Ky’s mother.
The second of four boys, Ky started chemotherapy to fight the cancer, a battle that would last three years.
"He was in and out of the hospital. We would stay in the hospital for 45 days straight,” Lovely said.
"I didn’t like it at all," Ky said.
Kevynne Dudek’s job was to help support Ky and his family. A child life specialist at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Dudek saw firsthand all that Ky endured.
"There's all the side effects with the treatment. There's the isolation, losing hair, just being different," Dudek said.
Dudek and the staff would try to inject some fun with spontaneous dance parties. They also arranged for Ky to play video games on the gaming system donated by the Starlight Children’s Foundation, a non-profit that aims to deliver happiness to seriously ill children.
"He was nice and distracted, which is the goal and it was, I think, a really huge part of helping to get through," Dudek said of Ky’s time playing video games.
Now in remission since September 2021, Ky’s time in the hospital inspired him to build his own gaming computer and also dream even bigger. He wants to go to a university one day to study technology or science.
Ky’s mom hopes his story is a source of strength for other families facing similar struggles.
"It's okay to break down. It's okay to feel that everything has come crashing down and then eventually you get to see someone totally different from how he started. Now he's a young boy who has dreams and goals and visions."