“When your child is diagnosed with cancer, your life stops, changes course, and begins instead toward a path to do anything and everything to help your baby,” Jessica Hester wrote on her website about her 7-year-old daughter Brooke.
The feeling also rings true for Christie and David Dammer.
For them, it seems almost like a lifetime ago that they sat across from a team of doctors who tried to comfort them while explaining that their son, Aydain, had cancer.
Brooke and Aydain have Stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer that occurs almost exclusively in infants and children.
Dozens of individuals laced up their sneakers and dusted of their old wedding and prom dresses Saturday for Heritage Park Fitness’ second annual Bride Run and first Zumbathon, which raised money for Brooke and Aydain with the help of the Central Texas College Nursing Association.
During Brooke’s 3-year-old checkup in April 2010, the pediatrician said she was a little on the “chunky” side for her age and height. She had a great summer and even learned how to swim, her mom said.
In August, a few sporadic things began to occur. First she had a couple of unexplained fevers. Then in late September, Brooke started having a strange limp and her right knee became swollen. It became harder for her to walk.
The pediatrician’s initial diagnosis was Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Meanwhile, Brooke started rapidly losing weight, losing her appetite, crawling or pulling up and holding her back, but she only complained of knee and tummy pain. A sonogram, nuclear scans, MRI/MRU and later tests in November 2010 revealed a large tumor in her abdomen pressing on her left kidney, spine and internal organs.
Cancer remains the No. 1 disease killer of children and neuroblastoma is the most common extracranial tumor in kids.
“We know that funding for research is highly critical for children fighting,” Hester said. “We are so blessed our friends and family help open doors for Brooke.”
The family lives near Corpus Christi and travels frequently to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Michigan, where Brooke is on the only individualized therapy plan for neuroblastoma in the world.
In the past three months, Aydain has completed many scans, tests, surgeries and five rounds of chemotherapy.
“We have learned to read in between the lines of daily lab results and how they can entail the rest of our day, sometimes even our week,” according to a post on his Go Fund Me account page.
The family recently learned they may have to abandon their trial protocol and travel to San Francisco for specialized treatments.
He is recovering from surgery in California and his parents could not be reached for comment.
The fundraiser Saturday raised more than $1,000 for Brooke’s and Aydain’s families. For more information on how to help the families, go to www.BrookesBlossoms.org and www.facebook.com/AydainDammersFight.