Family Corner: Kelly Fisher

“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

Family Corner: Brenda Ries

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

Family Corner: Brothers and Sisters, Fall 2015

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 Campbell drawingGavin Campbell
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.”

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Family Corner: John “Gungie” Rivera

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

Family Corner: Kathleen Clark

Daryn Clark BannerIt’s been two years this summer since my father, Daryn Clark, was taken away from us. I remember him looking me in the eye and saying he wanted to be remembered, but that “I don’t want to be remembered as the guy who had brain cancer.” I’m proud to say he is remembered every day, and that his thumbprint will be a part of research for years. His picture hangs in the CBTP research lab for all the researchers to see as they enter, to remind them that these “children’s cancers” are not limited to children. My family’s loss is different from what most of the other CBTP families have suffered, but my determination is like everyone else’s in the group—to fight for better, more effective treatments, so we can stop these tumors from robbing families of their loved ones. — Kathleen Clark

We would love to hear from other family members, including siblings, grandparents, and others who would like to share their experiences. Please email your stories to

Family Corner: Rob and Dana MacNaughton

For parents of a child who has had a brain tumor, our story thus far has been a happy one. We are thrilled to report that our son Stuart has been NED (No Evidence of Disease) for five years. Stuart’s journey, however, has—and will continue to be—difficult. Brain cancer has affected him physically, mentally, and emotionally. Yet, he is with us, and thriving in many ways. For this we are very grateful.

Even if a child is “lucky” enough to have a brain tumor that can be removed (partially or entirely), therapeutic choices are limited and highly toxic. When Stuart was starting treatment there was no efficient way to attack the tumor cells left in his brain, so it was recommended that he receive some rounds of “high-dose” chemotherapy. An oncologist once described it as unleashing a nuclear bomb in his body in order to wipe out a very small target. But we realized how fortunate we were to have that option. Read more

Family Corner: Maria and Geoff Gratton

As all couples have, we’ve experienced those defining moments in our life together, including our wedding day and the births of our children. While those continue to resonate with us, we now have another defining moment—one that reset our concept of “normal.”

That defining moment came on December 1, 2012, at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, when our son was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. In less than five minutes our lives were forever changed, and we found ourselves desperately seeking answers in a world that we had never even known existed. Read more