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Richland teen is remembered as courageous, determined through long cancer battle

Richland teen is remembered as courageous , determined through long cancer battle

RICHLAND, Wash. -- A beloved Richland sixteen-year-old passed away this week after courageously battling liver cancer for years.

“It changed our whole world from that second on,” Randy Dirks said. “Everything was different. Forever.”

Stephanie and Randy Dirks remember what it was like when they first learned their son Caden had a rare liver cancer.

“He said, ‘okay, what are we going to do?'” Randy said.

But they said what never wavered was Caden's faith and determination.

“When he didn't have cancer care,” Stephanie said. “He was living, every minute, every second.”

Caden was a junior at Richland High. He was a big brother to four siblings and kept a journal to document his life's hopes.

“He was a goal setter,” Stephanie said. “He had his life planned. And he made a lot of his dreams come true, but not all of them. He wanted to be a doctor. And he would have been a good one--probably the best I know."

They reminisced powerful, unforgettable moments in his life--remembering a time Caden got up to speak to his church congregation.

“He stood up and told everybody, you know, ‘I had a scan. It was not good, but you've just got to roll with the punches,’” Stephanie said. “Everybody in the audience knows what he has been through. They saw it all from day one, and he is standing up there with courage, and conviction, and faith."

Caden will be remembered for his humor and his generous soul.

“He was just the best gift giver,” Stephanie said. “He was always looking outward, saying, ‘what can I do for others?’ Even though he had every excuse imaginable to say, look what I’m going through. Sometimes I wondered how he could be mine. He was everything that I want to be and more.”

The Dirks said because of Caden’s example, they will live with more enthusiasm--laughing and experiencing life--together.

“He will always be remembered,” Randy said.

“Always,” Stephanie added. “I will love him forever.”

The Dirks family wants to thank the community for their kindness and support. They welcome all to join them at Caden's memorial service on Thursday, 12 October at 895 Gage Blvd, Richland at 2pm. Einan’s at Sunset will offer any updates.

To help with funeral expenses, donate to the Dirks’ GoFundMe here.

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