After extensive testing, two-year-old Christopher Thrun, Hancock, was diagnosed in November 2011 with neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer that occurs more frequently in children under the age of 5. A benefit for the family will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, April 7, at the Moose Family Center in Stevens Point.
Neuroblastoma is a solid tumor cancer of the sympathetic nervous system. Scientists have not yet determined the exact cause, but it occurs when neuroblasts – precursors to nerve cells – grow and divide rather than develop into nerve cells.
Approximately 700 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with neuroblastoma every year, which accounts for 8 to 10 percent of all cancers found in children.
Neuroblastoma is an aggressive pediatric cancer, and similar to other types of cancer it can spread to other parts of the body. Christopher has tumors on his brain, spine, abdomen and bone marrow.
Since Christopher was diagnosed, his mother, Elizabeth Thrun, has been taking him to the Marshfield Clinic in Marshfield every three weeks for chemotherapy. She is also raising her 14-month-old son and working toward a degree in nursing at Mid-State Technical College in Marshfield.
Christopher has been to clinics in Madison in order to have stem cells harvested for use later. Toward the end of March he will have surgery to remove as much of the abdominal tumor as possible at American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison.
Christopher is handling the trips to hospitals and the myriad medical procedures well.
“He knows they’re going to do things to him but he takes it in stride,” said Michelle Thrun, Christopher’s grandmother. “He’ll tell you what needs to be done… whether it is taking his blood pressure or his temperature,”
The family said they are grateful for the medical care Christopher is receiving.
“They have been wonderful. They’re very supportive, very knowledgeable,” said Michelle Thrun. “They love Christopher up there in the children’s hospital. He’s a fixture and they enjoy him.”
There is also a special senior volunteer at the clinic that has formed a special bond with Christopher.
“She goes by Grandma Rosie,” said Michelle Thrun. “She sent him a card for Valentine’s Day. He is always excited to go there and see her. He’s a very outgoing little guy and he loves everybody. He also loves (the Pixar movie) “Cars.” He’s a Mader nut. That’s the tow truck, played by Larry the Cable Guy.”
Last Christmas Eve, family members began talking about holding a benefit to help the Thruns.
The benefit is open to the public and will feature a bake sale, food, refreshments, a DJ, basket raffles and games for kids.
“It just sort of took off as more people got involved,” said Michelle Thrun. “It will be a good time.”
Family members that have been organizing the benefit have reached out to the central Wisconsin community, including businesses, to find people willing to attend the benefit and help the family.
In addition to the medical costs, the cost of traveling to and from hospitals around the state is burdensome, so gas cards would also be helpful, according to the family.
“I’m hoping we can make enough to defray some of my daughter’s expenses,” Michelle Thrun said. “The more people we can get there the better. We’ve been putting a lot into the benefit. It would be nice to have a full house.”
For more information regarding pediatric neuroblastoma can be found at the Children’s Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation website at www.cncfhope.org.