Charlie Van Eman
During the summer of 2020, Charlie began experiencing back pain that my husband Bill and I felt was unusual for a seven year old. We took him to our pediatrician, and he believed Charlie had just pulled a muscle and recommended that we try icing his back for the next couple of weeks. The pain continued to get worse, literally bringing Charlie to tears at night so we took him back to the pediatrician. Our pediatrician ran some blood work and noticed a few markers were elevated. Because the pain was getting worse, he sent us to Texas Children’s in the Woodlands for a CT scan on July 17, 2020. Bill and I both believed this would most likely show that Charlie had torn a muscle or had a similar injury that would be easy to treat.
After returning home from The Woodlands, we received a call later that day from our pediatrician saying that the CT scan had revealed that Charlie had lesions on his spine that should not be there. We were told to report to Texas Children’s Hospital in the Houston Medical Center that night. We spent the next week at Texas Children’s Hospital undergoing multiple tests. On Friday July 24, 2020 Charlie was diagnosed with neuroblastoma (cancer of the nerve endings in the body). We were allowed to go home for the weekend and we returned on Tuesday July 28, 2020 for Charlie to have his port placement and begin chemotherapy.
Over the next 15 months, Charlie underwent 5 rounds of chemotherapy, had surgery to remove the tumor mass, completed 2 autologous bone marrow transplants, received 12 sessions of proton radiation, and completed 5 rounds of immunotherapy. On October 20th, Charlie had his final disease assessment and continues to be cancer free. His chemotherapy port has been removed which allowed him to return to nearly all normal childhood activities! Charlie will continue to be monitored and will complete a full disease assessment which includes a MIBG scan, bone marrow biopsy, and MRI every three months and eventually graduate to every six months and then yearly. His next disease assessment is scheduled for January 2022.
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