Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Blog

New Clinical Trial Gives Hope to Children Battling Cancer: Ber’s Story

Filed under: childhood cancer research,kids fighting cancer — The Good Cookies @ 1:56 pm August 8, 2017

 

Amber VanderMeer courageously shares the story of her son Ber and his fight with neuroblastoma. 

Our introduction to the world of pediatric cancer came in 2007, when our sweet and innocent son, Ber (“Bear”), was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma the week of his fourth birthday.

2007 was a very memorable year for our family.  We moved into our new house in January and in June we welcomed our precious daughter Elizabeth.  In October, Ber began to sporadically complain about some aches and pains. We took him to the doctor and it was suggested that he was simply having growing pains. Toward the end of November, Ber’s energy declined. He started running a low fever and he just wasn’t himself.  Ber turned four on Monday, November 26 and on Friday, November 30 we learned that Ber had cancer.

How did this happen?  How did we go from worrying about having enough goodie bags to trying to figure out how to fight pediatric cancer and save our son’s life?  We quickly developed a treatment plan and began the process of trying to get the upper hand on the cancer cells that were attempting to take over Ber’s small body.

With Ber, we talked about “strong medicine” that would make him feel bad, but was needed to kill the “bad cells”.  We gained a new vocabulary full of words like hickman lines and neutropenia.  We became members of a new community full of parents trying to save their children too.  We learned that most of the treatment options were toxic and would likely cause other complications such as hearing loss, heart damage, and even other forms of cancer.  When they hang a bag of IV chemotherapy that is labeled “caution – carcinogen” it sends up all kinds of red flags in your head. But what else can you do when this is the standard procedure?

Over the next seven and a half years we were incredibly fortunate to put together the right combination of treatments to rid Ber’s body of cancer.  This included chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, immunotherapy, and a neuroblastoma vaccine.  Not all of the treatments would work the way we had hoped they would.  Clinical trials gave us additional treatment options and provided hope when we needed it most.

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer funded the neuroblastoma vaccine that Ber received and is dedicated to raising money to fund less toxic treatment options for pediatric cancer patients.  We are eternally grateful and want to encourage others to support this cause.

It’s so easy to send cookies to someone, host a bake sale, organize a hat day, and make others aware of the fact that sadly only 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s budget is dedicated to all types of pediatric cancer combined.  Everyone has the ability to make a difference in the lives of children fighting cancer.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Helen Keller

To learn more about the phase 1 clinical trial, funded in part by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, available this month for kids just like Ber, click here. To donate to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer to fund research into new, innovative treatments for the #1 disease killer of kids in the U.S., click here.

 

Photos: Ber & his family.

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