As you may know, the Sheepherders Ball & Lamb Auction is the primary source of funding for the Basque Foundation’s charity account. This annual event is a great opportunity to help the Basque community support families in need. The majority of funds raised from the Sheepherders Ball is reserved for a primary beneficiary each year, while the remainder is shared amongst others in need.

Once again, this year’s primary recipient is Kristen Worthington and her 14-year-old son, Nikko.  In 2017 Kristen found a lump in her breast which lead to the disheartening diagnosis of an aggressive form of breast cancer. Her recovery was difficult and she endured complications. She had to undergo a second surgery for a hematoma, then blood clots developed in her lungs, and, of course, an intense regimen of chemotherapy.

Chemo treatment was successful, and Kristen was in remission until this September when she once again did not feel well. Hospital scans showed more cancerous tumors on her liver, which means her cancer had spread. The most recent diagnosis is Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. The current tumors are treatable, but the cancer will come back. Kristen is once again on chemotherapy.

In 2017, throughout all of Kristen’s health issues, her son Nikko also did not feel well. In May of 2017 Nikko’s MRI found two broken vertebrae in his lower back, but also picked up a succession of tumors. After further testing, it was determined that Nikko’s kidneys were at the verge of acute failure, and more cancer was found throughout his bone marrow compromising his vertebrae, skull, pelvis, legs, and other bones throughout his body.

By July 2018, Nikko had finished a year-long treatment for an aggressive form of Rhabdomayosarcoma and was cancer-free. Three months later, during his very first follow-up scans, doctors discovered his cancer was back, and it was widespread throughout his body.

The family was given two options for Nikko. One option was to treat the cancer with chemo in Boise and hope he responded well, knowing the cancer would come back and quality of life would not be good. Instead the Worthingtons chose option two: look for alternative treatment options with new drugs and technology with hope for recovery and a higher quality of life. Option two was the clear choice, even though it meant Kristen and Nikko would have to spend an extended amount of time in Seattle to be treated. This treatment would also be much more expensive.

Nikko and Kristen have been going back and forth to Seattle, but did make it home for Thanksgiving. They recently returned to Seattle and will likely be there through Christmas.

The Worthingtons have gone through far more than any family should ever have to. This is why the Basque Center Board felt it imperative to choose the Worthingtons once again as the primary beneficiary of this year’s lamb auction.

For more information about the Worthington family, visit the KTVB Seven’s Hero article at:

You can continue to follow their story on Facebook at:

You can also visit their GoFundMe page to make donations directly to them at: