Imagine An Answer was formed in 2015; several years after we had learned that our son Clay, then 3, had a brain tumor. Perfectly "healthy" until then, he was diagnosed over Easter weekend, when he dropped to the ground in pain, and began vomiting. We rushed him to the Emergency Room, and entered into not only the hospital, but also the doors of the pediatric brain tumor world.
Since then, we have witnessed firsthand the devastation this disease inflicts on patients and their families:
Outdated, ineffective treatments that rob the patient of a decent quality of life
Around-the-calendar quarterly (or more) MRIs, weekly blood tests
A decreased immune system that makes the patient more susceptible to an array of other illnesses, and
A myriad of painful and debilitating side effects including cognitive, psychological, and social impacts in addition to the typical medical side effects like nausea, balance issues, constipation, muscle weakness, and hormone imbalances.
This never-ending cycle of tests, treatments and time spent recovering from surgeries deprives diagnosed children of their childhood. Even the "lucky" children who are able to attend school and participate in activities suffer psychological and cognitive late-stage effects from medications and medical trauma.
We watched our son suffer through this disease for 12 years. We could not stop the tumor from taking his eyesight when he was almost 7 years old. The tumor hemorrhaged again, which these tumors often do, and the blood destroyed his optic nerves. At 15, our beloved boy passed away from this disease. His body could no longer tolerate the medications he had been taking for 12 years to keep his tumors "at bay." As soon as he stopped the medication, the tumors would grow. This disease is relentless. We will live in sorrow for the rest of our days, imagining how things might have gone had there been better treatments that would not ravage his body.
Mary & J.D. Derderian