Childhood Cancer Heroes

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Keaton Sundeen

  • Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG)

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Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG)

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Keaton was an affectionate little boy with a love for Marvel superheroes, especially Captain America. He also loved watching Paw Patrol and reading; his favorite book series included Captain Underpants and Bad Guys. He particularly loved building LEGOs and wanted to be a scientist and basketball player when he grew up. He enjoyed taking piano lessons, participating in gymnastics and was a proud Wolf in Cub Scouts. He loved telling jokes, making people laugh, learning whenever he could and sharing his knowledge with everyone. Keaton loved the rainbow, and his favorite color was red because it was the first color of the rainbow. 

On April 27, 2022, Keaton tripped on his way into school. After his fall, he was dizzy and vomiting. His family took him to the clinic the next day, but they were sent home and told to bring him in if his condition worsened. Every day he would vomit first thing in the morning. On Saturday, April 30, 2022, Keaton was taken to the Emergency Room. The ER doctor did a CT scan and said that Keaton had a brain tumor. From there, he traveled to Sanford Children's Hospital in Fargo, ND where he was admitted for an MRI and a biopsy. 

On May 6, 2022, Keaton’s family was told he had DIPG, and only six-12 months to live.  

Keaton was transferred to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN where he participated in a clinical trial and received 10 sessions of radiation. At the end of May, he was able to travel back home to North Dakota.  

Keaton was improving, and another MRI scan showed that his tumor had shrunk. On June 11, 2022 Keaton and his family traveled to Orlando, FL for a family trip that had been planned for two years. Keaton's health started declining after the family arrived in Florida. He was taken to the ER at Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital, and after a CT scan, it was determined that Keaton was showing significant brain bleeds. 

Sadly, Keaton passed away on June 13, 2022, the day after his 9th birthday. 

Keaton is a hero because he faced his medical challenges with bravery. He never lost his sense of humor or the wonderful sparkle in his eye. He remained determined and didn't complain once. His family remembers him lovingly. 

Jennifer, Keaton’s mom, shared her advice for other families who may be facing a childhood cancer diagnosis: “Enjoy every single moment of your time together. From diagnosis until death, we only had 44 days to wrap our minds around what was happening. Too much of that time was spent in a daze. But every day, I never failed to tell Keaton that I loved him.” 

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) gives hope to families like Jennifer’s. “We are not alone in our fight, nor are we the first to fight,” she said. Among advocating for change and funding new research into childhood cancer treatments and cures, ALSF has also helped Keaton’s younger siblings through his experience by sending mail through the SuperSibs program. 

Information provided by Jennifer S., Keaton’s mom
Updated October 2022 

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