Catherine was a healthy, happy child until age 3½ when we noticed that she had a slight limp. Our lives changed forever when she was diagnosed with Stage IV high risk neuroblastoma, a cancer with a dismal prognosis. Within days of her diagnosis, she began intense treatments including six rounds of high-dose chemotherapy, surgery to remove the tumor on her right adrenal gland, two stem-cell transplants, radiation, and innumerable tests, scans, and blood transfusions. Following the harsh fifteen-month treatment protocol, Catherine emerged cancer-free. She remained well for two years, but her neuroblastoma returned just before her 7th birthday, and she was immediately plunged back into the world of cancer treatment. Catherine was able to reach a second remission and began a course of antibody treatments at Sloan Kettering in New York. Unfortunately, after three months, her scans showed the cancer had returned for a third time. We took her to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for radiotherapy with MIBG. This treatment failed to stop the neuroblastoma from progressing. Catherine was hospitalized with severe pain in February 2011. She had reached the end of her treatment options. Catherine died on April 1, 2011.
Current treatments for high-risk neuroblastoma are highly toxic and have achieved a survival rate of less than 40%. Despite this critical situation, limited funding for research stands in the way of helping more kids survive this devastating cancer. We decided that we needed to continue Catherine's fight. We wanted to focus on research and treatment because we felt it would be the most effective way we could fight back against the vicious disease, neuroblastoma. New treatments must be developed that are less toxic and less painful for children, and still effective at annihilating the disease. This is where our focus lies.