PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As we near the end of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, KOIN 6 News is featuring one local boy who’s been through quite the ordeal.

Joey Poirier was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer when he was just 4 years old. Local non-profit Candlelighters helped support him through his journey. (Courtesy: Melissa Mills)

This bright-eyed little boy was going through some dark times when these pictures were taken. At four years old, Joey Poirier of Albany was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer.

“I would say scary, maybe, or frightening,” Poirier said of his diagnosis.

His mother, Melissa Mills, estimates he spends about three weeks in the hospital in any given month. Because of Poirier’s radiation and chronic kidney disease, there are ongoing health issues such as his small stature, hair loss and memory disabilities.

“For me, it was really hard to make friends,” Poirier said.

That’s where Candlelighters came in.

The local non-profit helps families going through pediatric cancer and that includes events where they make connections with other families.

“Being part of this community, it’s like having a family, but it’s more than that,” Mills explained. “It’s very emotional. You develop a bond with these other families and these amazing kids — there are no words to describe how amazing it feels.”

Learn more about Candlelighters

For Poirier, it includes being involved with the Candlelighters’ Luminaries teen group, where he’s made many friends.

“I felt comfortable to describe my feelings,” he said. “They understand how I feel when I went through all this.”

Mills said with a diagnosis like this, a person’s world can feel very small. Organizations like Candlelighters make all the difference.

“With organizations like this, it really opens it up,” she said. “You feel connected and understood and just really amazing.