In October of 2016, Christian Daugherty screamed and collapsed. Rushing to his aid, his parents called 911 worried for their son’s life. After being rushed to Ball Memorial Hospital, he was life-lined to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. It was there that they discovered a tumor the size of a baseball growing on Christian’s brain stem. The rupture of the tumor caused the intense pain Christian felt that late October night.
After four more brain surgeries and tests across the nation, Christian’s tumor was found to be malicious cancer.
Christian’s latest surgery in February of 2019 removed a protruding tumor above his right ear (pictured below). The tumor was sent to research labs for testing both with rats and new medications.
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Few children have brain tumors the size of what Christian had, even few have tumors which are so intense and life-altering. This tumor was soon discovered to have a gene fusion — when part of the DNA moves from one chromosome to another — which has never been reported before. Doctors believe this fusion is what the cancer is a parasite of and is continuously altering Christian’s genes to survive.
With every new drug, the cancer finds a way to adapt and live alongside the drug causing the tumor’s growth to be halted temporarily before growing. Within a just a few weeks, the original tumor could grow to the size of a baseball, and rupture once again.
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Christian has been put on a variety of chemotherapy drugs, including some experimental in the pediatric field. Samples of Christian’s tumor, brain and cancerous cells have been sent to Riley’s Medical & Molecular Genetics team to conduct research for future cases. Christian’s tumor may be a mystery today, but the child who is found to have it next could survive solely based on Christian’s volunteerism, love and aid.
This story will be updated continuously.