Vinnie is just like most other 9 year-old boys. He loves to play outside with his friends, climbing trees, horsing around, and having fun. Last summer, he took a tumble off some playground equipment, nothing unusual.
Except this time the aches slowly turned to pain. His mom, an x-ray technician, thought maybe he had broken his tailbone, but x-rays showed no previous fractures.
“It got to where he was taking 3 epsom salt baths per night, taking ibuprofen all the time and asking us for massages,” his mom, Christina, recalls. “He started to get really constipated and nothing worked. After a visit to the chiropractor, he was able to get cleaned out and told us the pain wasn’t so bad. We did this more than once.”
After months of testing, it turned out Vinnie had a myxopapillary tumor that had formed in the one-inch gap between his spinal cord and his brain. They later learned that the fall caused the tumor to rupture and bleed into the spinal cord, which caused scar tissue to form, amplifying Vinnie’s pain.
“He got really lucky, and even though it was wrapped up in the nerves, it was actually in the best place it could be,” Christina said. She then explained that normally this type of tumor forms in the brain, but because of where Vinnie’s was located, surgery turned out to be the best option.
In February, Vinnie underwent a successful surgery that removed the majority of the tumor and scar tissue. When Vinnie and his parents learned the tumor was cancerous, Christina said she took it worse than he did.
“I couldn’t be around people for the first whole week, but Vinnie was in so much pain before the surgery, that he’s not worried about having cancer. We live next door to my dad, who has colon cancer, and Vinnie walked right over there and said, ‘Pawpaw, we’re more alike than we thought. I’ve got cancer, too.’” Christina remembers. Two weeks after surgery he felt so good he wanted to go tree-climbing. They told him no.
Chemotherapy was not an option for Vinnie’s type of cancer and Christina was feeling pretty down. Then her brother called and said she should look into targeted proton beam therapy, which targets cancer cells by directing proton radiation right into them. So she did.
Luckily, the nearest proton therapy center was only 79 miles from their home. And, being a fairly new center, they had just received information about Compass to Care the week before!
In March, Vinnie began six weeks of proton therapy, which meant driving the 79 miles to the hospital in St. Louis, and back home again, five days a week. Fortunately, Compass to Care was there to cover the cost of all that gasoline, and Vinnie’s family couldn’t be happier.
“I want you to know how grateful I am – I don’t know how we would have done it without Compass to Care’s help!” Christina said.
Your donation to Compass to Care will help kids, like Vinnie, travel to cancer treatment.
Compass to Care provides travel support for families, who demonstrate a financial need, when necessary to get their children to cancer treatment. Funding for children receiving proton therapy is generously provided by IBA. IBA (Ion Beam Applications S.A.) is a global medical technology company focused on bringing integrated and innovative solutions for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The company is the worldwide technology leader in the field of proton therapy, the most advanced form of radiation therapy available today. IBA is committed to making proton therapy accessible to more patients worldwide. Their support of the mission of Compass to Care is proof of that commitment.