When Lauren Reagan was told her son had terminal cancer in January 2018, she couldn’t stop thinking about the upcoming “Jurassic World” movie.
Reagan was pondering how much time her son had left to live, and how much longer it would be before “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” would debut in the summer.
Her son, Declan Reagan, was 5 at the time. He was known around Clark County as “Declan the Dinosaur” because of his love of dinosaurs.
Reagan was hoping that her son, in a Portland hospital, would outlive his estimated two weeks and make it another six months to see the summer blockbuster.
“How can I make this happen?” Reagan, a Vancouver resident, asked herself then.
Despite his terminal diagnosis, Declan survived until May 25, 2018, reaching his sixth birthday and living months longer than initially expected. Reagan credits that time to blood and platelet transfusions Declan received once or twice a week while in hospice.
Declan the Dinosaur
“It was the only thing that sustained him,” Reagan said. “That gave us five extra months with him.”
In those five months, Declan lived what some might be lucky to cram into five years. He visited the set of “Jurassic World” and saw a special early viewing of the movie two weeks before his death.
After months cramped inside hospital rooms, Reagan, Declan and his twin brother, Adrian, stayed at a treehouse cabin at Skamania Lodge; living in a treehouse was a fantasy of Declan’s.
The brothers were drafted in April 2018 by the Harlem Wizards, a barnstorming basketball performing group.
There were smaller moments, too, like when Declan would eat Hostess cupcakes and binge-watch movies all day. Or when Reagan would take Declan on a Walmart toy run at 2:30 a.m. Or when Reagan would get to watch her two sons play together in their home.
Big or small, the moments mattered. They helped bring a fulfillment to Declan’s final months and a peace to Reagan as she readied herself for his death.
“The Pacific Northwest community gave me five extra months because of blood donations,” Reagan said. “I’m forever grateful for that time. I’ll always have those memories. I don’t take for granted the small moments in life anymore.”
As Reagan re-assessed her life during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, like so many people have, she decided to make a career shift to something that connected her more to Declan.
After a career in hospitality management, Reagan transitioned in November to a business development representative job with Bloodworks Northwest, an organization that collected much of the blood that prolonged Declan’s life.
In her job, Reagan works with community leaders and local businesses to help spread the word about the need for more blood donations.
The position has been a natural fit for Reagan, given her past work in hospitality. She also gets to share Declan’s story through her work.
“I can keep his memory alive and pay it forward to other families,” Reagan said.
On May 25, Reagan and Adrian celebrated Declan’s life on the most recent anniversary of his death. They visited the Oregon Coast and hiked God’s Thumb, which is near Lincoln City, Ore.
It’s a tradition that both mother and son take time off work and school to remember Declan. Their hike this year included some challenging uphill climbs, but the view at the top paid off.
“Being able to just spend the time together, goofy in the woods, working on something that is difficult, but the view at the top is so beautiful,” Reagan said. “That’s how our life has been. You go through difficult times, but you can still find some beauty and joy in the situation.”