Along with the Amie Muller Foundation, proceeds will also support two local cancer-affected families. We've selected Eric and Paula this year. View their stories below.
Here is a little history of how Eric's journey began (written by his Mom, Lori) Many of you know that Eric's journey started 21 years ago at the age of 1 when he was diagnosed with a brain stem tumor. He had his first surgery at 15 months to remove the tumor, which unfortunately grew back, and a second surgery at 18 months to remove as much of the tumor as possible without causing Eric major brain damage. He then underwent 5 years of multiple types of chemotherapy. At the age of 6, when the chemotherapy was no longer working, he underwent 6 weeks of brain radiation. Unfortunately, the tumor grew during this time and there were no other medical options available. We were told that Eric had about 3 months to live and that we should get hospice set up. At that time Eric was on a feeding tube, could no longer move his eyes and was a very sick little boy. Then there was a miracle.......
Fast forward to May of 2019.......Eric had finished high school and was days away from graduation at Gustavus Adolphus College. Starting in December of 2018 Eric started to have major bouts of hiccups. They would last for several days and were interrupting his life. After several visits to various clinics, we were referred to Mayo clinic to see if they could figure out what was causing them. At the end of May, Eric had several appointments at Mayo. One of the tests they wanted to do was a brain MRI. It had been 15 years since his last brain MRI when the news was so bleak. Being Eric had no other symptoms other then hiccups so we weren't worried. When the results came back everyone was beyond shocked. The brain stem tumor was significant in size and was putting pressure on the hiccup center of the brain. We were immediately referred to a Neuro Oncologist at Mayo who wanted to see Eric the same day to assess his condition. The Dr. was shocked to see how well Eric was doing clinically due to the size of the tumor. He was expecting that Eric would be admitted to the hospital but once again, Eric defied all odds and the next day, on a beautiful sunny day, graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College. Proud doesn't even begin to describe how we felt. Plus, Eric had accepted a great job offer with United Health Care in Mpls. and was scheduled to start 1 week later.
The next steps at Mayo would be for them to gather all of Eric's records from Children's Hospital and see if they could use any of the previous scans to compare the tumor against The last MRI Eric had was in 2004 after his radiation. There was so much swelling in the brain stem at that time that it made it hard to use it as a comparison to the most recent scan. Because Eric is doing so well clinically and as the Dr. said "not acting like a person with a brain stem tumor" they decided to hold off on treatment until they had another scan to compare. There are a couple of reasons for this decision....1) They don't want to start chemo and make Eric worse then he is and 2) they can't repeat any of the chemo drugs he previously had which limits the drugs available for brain tumors and they want to hold off as long as they can. He will have another MRI the first week in August and they will use that to compare to his last scan.
Paula is a classmate of mine from 1988 in Litchfield. She is a wonderful, energetic, faithful, supportive, crazy fun woman. Some of my best memories from high school are of Paula and her friends being the absolute life of the party. Always fun, smiling and giving everyone grief. I am incredibly touched by her strength and her push to beat cancer. Here are her words...
"I was diagnosed with breast cancer and it had spread into my lymph nodes putting me at Stage 3. 2 years later I had a pet scan showed a spot on my rib but doctors were not concerned. So, years after that in January, 2018, I fractured the very rib that had a spot ...so I went in for a pet scan and it showed up cancer in my vertebraes my ribs and my right shoulder. I will be on the "brantz a chemo" pill they say for the rest of my life. it has kept some spots away but new ones have popped up that I am currently treating in my vertebraes again with radiation."
Thank you for being a part of this event to support these families. To donate directly, click below.