Imagine hearing that not only does your child have cancer- but it’s such a rare form that it’s only been documented in 135 cases worldwide- or in less than one percent of the population. More rare than being struck by a lightning bolt. That is what parents of two year old Carter heard in April – and why Carter was brought to Grand Rapids from his home in Kalamazoo, MI.
Carter is diagnosed with pineoblastoma- a very aggressive tumor that causes cerebrospinal fluid to buildup in the brain. The tumor causes pressure in the brain stem, which controls the entire body – and was causing Carter’s headaches and repeated vomiting. In the span of one month, little Carter had three different brain surgeries. He then was brought to Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for chemotherapy treatments and has also been in physical therapy at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.
Carter’s great-grandmother, Gerrie Carmen, has been staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan (RMHWM) since mid-May and has been at Carter’s side with her granddaughter Alana and Carter’s dad Brandon every day. “It has been such a blessing that we can all be here to support Carter and to fight alongside him every step of the way. The House takes care of everything I need- a room, meals, laundry, support from the staff and other families- so all I have to think about is being there for my family.” Gerrie says that Carter’s journey will be long- and they will face many challenges. But for now, he is playing with some of his favorite toys and enjoying music therapy and pet therapy- and most importantly, his family is staying close when he needs them the most.