Little Eric’s Foundation mission is to fund pediatric brain and childhood cancer research, raise awareness and assist children and their families fighting pediatric cancers.  To help further this mission, we at Little Eric’s Foundation have created a blog to bring you current information.  In our first blog post, board member Tyler Bonita is bringing some facts on Ependymoma Awareness Day.  Keep watching for future posts…

Ependymoma Awareness Day – May 3, 2020

May is Brain Cancer Awareness Month, and as many of you know, our Eric fought a long, hard battle with brain cancer. 

In 2011, after his first brain surgery to remove a mass on his brain, it was discovered that Eric had brain cancer. The specific type of brain cancer he had turned out to be Grade 3 Anaplastic Ependymoma. Since May third is Ependymoma Awareness Day, here are some facts about the disease:

  • Ependymoma is an incredibly rare form of brain cancer, representing only 1.9% of all primary brain and central nervous system (CNS) tumors. 
  • The severity ranges from Grade I to Grade IV, with the survival rate lessening at the more severe stages.
  • The treatment for ependymoma requires surgical removal of the tumor, radiation, and chemotherapy.
  • Clinical trials are very rare and have yet to be proven successful (Ivy Brain Tumor Center).

There are many side effects that come from brain tumor treatments. Not only do they affect the patient, but they have a large impact on family members as well.

Eric had not one, not two, but three brain surgeries. Over time, our family witnessed him struggle through extensive nerve damage. He had to learn how to walk, talk, and do basic life functions all over again. Unfortunately, these are only some of the milder side effects. Some more severe ones include blood clots, seizures, swelling of the brain, and more (CERN). We were fortunate in this way, and that is all thanks to the specialized doctors that cared for Eric.

Chemotherapy is designed to attack fast growing cells like ones that form brain tumors. However, some normal cells are also affected. Some of the side effects include:

  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Higher risk of infection

Eric did lose his hair and often slept a lot, but it was the higher risk of infection that we were always worried about. Whenever flu season came around, extra precautions were always necessary. Even smaller illnesses like the common cold had to be taken very seriously. 

The bottom line and most important point of all is that Ependymoma is a very rare form of brain cancer and there is no real cure. As our family has seen, current treatment methods can only go so far. It is time that we raise more awareness about this disease and provide more funding to find a cure.