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.
Running Towards a Cure: the 31 Days of May Challenge
During the Covid-19 Pandemic, raising money to support our goals can be difficult. In light of this, two of our board members, Tyler Bonita and Katherine Sokirka, found a very unique way to stay safe, social distance, exercise and raise money for the “31 Days of May” challenge for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
As many of you know by now, Little Eric passed away from brain cancer at the age of 14. Since May was Brain Cancer Awareness Month, our organization wanted to knock this challenge out of the park. Our initial goal was to raise $3,400, which, while it may not have seemed like a “homerun” type of dollar amount, it felt like a pretty big task to all of us. Turns out, we were wrong. By the time the 31 days came to an end, our final fundraiser amount was $10,000. We didn’t just hit a homerun, we hit a grand slam.
The team itself consisted of 36 board members, family, and friends who were all looking to keep off some of those extra quarantine pounds and raise some money in the “31 Days of May” challenge. For the month of May, all of the participants were asked to pledge between 31 to 100 miles of physical activity, including walking, biking and running. Together, our team completed a total of 4,201 miles and raised over $10,000 for pediatric cancer.
So, this is the part where we say thank you. To everyone that walked, ran, and biked for our team, we couldn’t have done this without all of you and your hard work. To all of the donors, we especially could not have done it without you.
Because of all of your generosity, Little Eric’s Foundation placed second out of all teams in the event. That’s $10,000 more towards finding a cure for pediatric cancers.
Let’s keep going.
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
- 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.