On New Year’s Eve 2010 our lives took an unimaginable turn: A doctor told us that our seemingly healthy 19-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, had inoperable brain cancer. We were advised to take her home, find palliative care, and expect her to succumb to her disease within the year. Words cannot describe our devastation, despair, and anger. How is it possible in this day, when we send space probes to the edge of the solar system and develop driverless cars, that there can there be no effective treatment options? There was literally no hope—only prayers for a miracle. Read more
They say that life is a highway and its milestones are the years,
And now and then there’s a toll-gate where you buy your way with tears.
—Joyce Kilmer (“Roofs,” 1917)
September is all about milestones, with its back-to-school firsts and the excitement of new beginnings. This year we have a special milestone: After 40+ years in my childhood home, including 14 years raising our family in it, the Andersons have moved! That house was a home base we had only ever planned on expanding, but Hurricane Irene five years ago, then Sandy a year later, was the beginning of the end. We began to mourn our home then, but we never could have imagined what was yet to come. I’ve learned a lot in the past five years about “the best laid plans.” Read more
Spring brought with it a new season of the races, tournaments, and festivals that help spread the word about the Children’s Brain Tumor Project and raise much-needed funds. Many thanks to the families that host these events, and to the communities that continue to to support them. We could not do our work without you!
The Christian Koehler Foundation got some nice coverage in Newsday for its 2016 Lacrosse Tournament. Chris and Janine Koehler host this event each year in memory of their son, and they have donated a total of more than $40,000 of the proceeds to the Children’s Brain Tumor Project. Our thanks to Chris and Janine, as well as to the players and families who continue to turn out to support us each year.
“Your marriage must be so strong.”
I have heard this statement often over the past three years. My 3-year-old daughter, Allie, died of gliomatosis cerebri in June of 2013. My husband, Kyle, and I are still together, and our marriage has survived this tragedy. But the truth is that it has been extremely difficult to rebuild our lives after cancer stole so much from us. Read more
“You have cancer” are three words no child should ever hear. Most people, however, don’t realize the impact those words have on the people around the child. It was an odd feeling when the word “cancer” was first used around me. My brother, Zachary, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor called DIPG in 2013 and fought for 9 months, passing in March of 2014.
February has always been special for me…it’s the month of my birthday, it’s when I met my husband 23 years ago, and on Valentine’s Day 2007 my second son, Sean, was born, making our family of four complete. But in 2012, February lost its charm in a way I never could have imagined. Eight days before his fifth birthday, Sean was diagnosed with a dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumor (DNET) in the left side of his brain. Told by doctor after doctor that his tumor was inoperable due to its size and location, we were not given many good options for treating Sean: surgery that would likely leave him with a devastating brain injury; chemotherapy that might not even work on his type of tumor; or radiation, which can have devastating long-term side effects on the developing brain of a 5-year-old child. Read more
Christian Koehler 7th Annual Lax Tournament
May 21, 2016
When a child is diagnosed with a brain tumor, an entire family is affected. We asked some of the children’s siblings to share their unique perspective on having a brother or sister diagnosed.
Gavin was a toddler when his brother, Ty, was diagnosed with AT/RT, and just three and a half when Ty passed away. Now in kindergarten, Gavin made a drawing that shows Ty in a wheelchair and himself as Spiderman. “I got in a fight on the bus because the kids told me I don’t have a brother,” he says. “I yelled at them and said ‘Yes I DO!’ I hate the bus.”
As a father, you think your biggest worry will be “please let me not drop him” or “let me please not lose him at a toy store.” You are never prepared to hear shattering news that makes all your other worries seem small and insignificant.
On January 22, 2007, I received the worst news any parent could ever receive. My entire world seemed to be crashing in on me. Cristian, my handsome son, was sick. The doctor spoke words that seemed to be in a foreign language, a language I had never heard. Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, he said. To me those words meant nothing other than: Something is wrong and I have to fix it. Read more