By: Trish Adkins
Childhood cancer happens every day, everywhere. In the United States, approximately 43 children are diagnosed every day, while thousands of others continue treatment for their primary diagnosis or relapsed cancer. These families are often forced to travel far from home for treatment or to search desperately for a clinical trial for cancer that is not responding to standard protocols.
Nearly seven children die each day from childhood cancer—leaving a permanent and unimaginable void in their families. Children survive childhood cancer, too, but not without a price. The nearly 500,000 childhood cancer survivors in the United States celebrate survivorship while also coping with the aftermath of cancer, side effects from treatment and the uncertainty of remaining cancer-free.
Critical research and clinical trials are essential to these children facing cancer. Meet eight children battling childhood cancer, who need our help now:
1. Nate Brady
Right now, Nate is on a clinical trial to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Diagnosed in April of this year at 11 years old, Nate is a fighter, bravely undergoing chemotherapy, physical therapy and lumbar punctures as part of his treatment. He’s losing weight due to a loss of appetite, and high doses of medication are causing his blood counts to fluctuate rapidly. Nate and his family dream of a future where easier, safer treatment plans are available for children with cancer.
2. Mary Stegmueller
Right now, Mary is fighting a deadly brain tumor with no known cure. Mary was 4 years old when she was diagnosed with a rare, deadly brain tumor called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). This diagnosis comes with many things — fear, a poor prognosis and a loss of hope. Mary’s doctors told the family about a clinical trial at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. The trial, funded in part by Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), uses CAR-T immunotherapy to target the tumor. Mary enrolled and her family began making monthly visits to Stanford, a thousand miles away from their home in Colorado. ALSF supports the family’s travel expenses through the Travel For Care program. Mary’s family has hope again as she continues treatment. Mary gets to enjoy her childhood around treatment and fights every day for a cancer-free future.
3. Leevi Fultz
Right now, Leevi is looking for a clinical trial to treat his relapsed cancer. At 2 years old, Leevi was diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma. He immediately underwent neurosurgery, radiation and chemotherapy – harsh forms of treatment that caused side effects he is still facing today. Although Leevi reached remission, his fight is sadly not over. This year, an MRI showed a tumor reoccurrence in the fourth ventricle of his brain. On top of wearing glasses, hearing aids, and having to ride in a wheelchair, Leevi is now seeking clinical trials that will give him a better chance at long-term remission.
4. Amara Davis
Right now, Amara continues to fight the side effects of neuroblastoma. She was just 18 months old when she was diagnosed with a tumor behind her liver. That tumor triggered a rare immune response called opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome (OMS). Today, Amara is finished with cancer treatment, but continues to fight the side effects of OMS, while her parents look forward to the day she can socialize with other children and go to school.
5. Travis Cook
Right now, Travis is searching for relief from long-term side effects of cancer and treatment. Travis was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor when he was 8 years old. Now as a 19-year old high school graduate, cancer and treatment have left some late effects. First, he began to suffer from chronic daily headaches and nausea, struggles with fatigue and PTSD symptoms. Then, Travis began having seizures, which led to hospitalizations and more neurological challenges. His tumor remains stable; but Travis continues to search for relief for the long-term cancer and treatment side effects which are jeopardizing his quality of life and holding him back from his future.
6. Heather Moore
Right now, Heather is enrolled in college and also enrolled in a CAR-T clinical trial. Heather’s journey with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) began when she was 12 years old. After 2 ½ years of treatment, Heather was in remission and returned to her regular life as a middle schooler and then a higher schooler. During her senior year of high school, Heather relapsed and this time the leukemia was in central nervous system. Her determination to graduate and attend college in the fall led her to a CAR-T immunotherapy trial at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. With the support of her doctors, her family and ALSF Travel For Care fund, Heather has been able to travel to treatment and remain enrolled at college.
7. Charly Davis
Right now, Charly is celebrating six months of clear scans following treatment for medulloblastoma. Diagnosed at the start of the pandemic with tumors in her brain and spine, Charly required proton radiation at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, over 400 miles away from her home in North Carolina. ALSF provided Charly’s family with the financial support they needed to get to treatment. Today, Charly is focused on her future — continuing to be hopeful for cancer-free scans, graduating high school in 2023 and someday becoming a social worker.
8. Kade Fuller
Right now, Kade is in remission, keeping an eye on any changes to his health. Last year, Kade’s mom discovered a strange film in his retina. It took a long time before he was diagnosed with retinoblastoma. His treatment worked, but he couldn’t run, jump or climb like a typical 1-year-old – any sudden, blunt movement could prove fatal. Getting through chemotherapy was no easy task, but with unending support from his family and financial help from ALSF, Kade is a rambunctious 2-year-old today. While Kade can be as active as he pleases again, his family wishes for research to advance where cancer can be caught as early as possible.
And right now, you can help these kids and their families by making a donation. On November 30, Giving Tuesday, your gift has twice the impact, thanks to ALDI USA who is matching all online donations to Giving Tuesday fundraisers for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, up to $100,000.