Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friends In Need Of Prayer

Adam Balch

Adam Balch is the brother of a boy that goes to school with Steven. Last Valentine's Day Adam's mother shaved Steven's head as part of a fundraiser for the UCLA Neuro-Oncology center in honor of Adam.

After an unspeakable battle with his brain tumor, which left the skull and invaded his face and jaw, Adam passed away on October 4.

Adam was an amazing inspiration to everyone, maintaining his positive and outgoing attitude in the face of unimaginable pain.

The Balch family is in our prayers.

Steven Von Spreckelson and his wife Britney

Steven Von Spreckelson and his family were the very first people I met the morning after we arrived in Memphis in September 2003. Steven V was diagnosed with the same tumor as our Steven 18 months before, when he was a junior in high school.

It just happened that Steven and his family were in Memphis for a followup visit on our first day in the Brain Tumor clinic and a mutual friend set us up.

I was still in a state of shock and it was so encouraging to meet another patient who had completed the treatment that Steven was about to begin and who was doing so well.

Steven V was a source of encouragement to me, he finished high school and attended college and graduated with honors. Early this year he got married.

Last August, two weeks after our Memphis visit, Steven V was in Memphis for his annual followup and the routine MRI found new tumors, believed to be a recurrence of his original tumor, 6 years and 3 months after being cancer free.

So Steven V and his young wife are back and forth between Memphis and his home in Nebraska as he undergoes chemotherapy for the tumors, which are inoperable.


And lastly, our dear friend Regina. I haven't wanted to write about Regina I think because writing it down makes it seem more real and this is something we hoped never to have to face.

Regina was diagnosed with the exact same tumor as Steven on the opposite side of her brain. They live in Laguna Niguel, about an hour north of us and we were introduced to them by a friend of mine the week we returned from Memphis at the end of Steven's treatment.

They ended up going to Memphis and doing the same treatment that Steven did and Regina was cancer-free for 3 years, but she recurred in June 2007 with over 30 new tumors. She was given 2 months to live.

Two doctors at Children's Hospital Los Angeles put together a custom protocol for Regina and the tumors shrunk. Last January she was cautiously declared to have no evidence of disease.

But last September there were again areas of concern on her MRI and they tried a new chemotherapy regimen.

Regina had another MRI and a week and a half ago I accompanied Regina's mother Diana to talk with the doctor about the MRI results (Regina's dad was in China on business).

The results were not good, there was further growth of the new tumors, indicating that her chemotherapy regimen wasn't working and he didn't really have any new options for her.

Regina looks really well, to see her it would be impossible to tell that she is so seriously ill. But the MRI reveals the monsters growing in her head and the sort of tumor that she and Steven have is very fast-growing.

Sometimes it seems the bad news comes in waves. Please keep our friends in your prayers.

- Kathleen

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