Saturday, August 27, 2016

Seven Year Old Cancer Survivor Steals the Show at Announcement

OU CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL -- Seven year old leukemia survivor Brock Hart and his mother, Vanessa Hart, spoke Friday at the announcement of a new partnership that will expand pediatric cancer research efforts in Oklahoma.

Brock stole the show with his matter-of-fact manner, stylish glasses and navy blue bow-tie.  
"Hello, My name is Brock. I'm seven years old and I have leukemia. These doctors helped me and I like fishing."

No one who saw Brock at the announcement before he spoke would have known just how big a battle he'd fought and won. Brock's mother, Vanessa, shared about their family's journey and how past research efforts saved Brock's life. 

"Brock was diagnosed with leukemia almost seven years ago when he was just 11 months old. 
Vanessa and Brock Hart
"I know it sounds cliché but no one thinks that their baby is going to get cancer. We were a happy little family of four. Brock had just learned to walk. He had the cutest belly laugh. And then in one day it all changed. 

"Brock's cancer went into remission early and that was a good sign. But shortly after that he got a fungal infection that went throughout his entire body and almost killed him. 
"A very compassionate doctor here at this hospital told me about the infection and she said, 'I believe in a big God who can do big things, so I have to tell you I think it's possible that Brock could live but I don't think it's probable.'  
"Our family came up. We said our goodbyes. We cried. And then he made it through that night. And then he made it through the next night. And then the night after that. Somehow-- miraculously-- and against probability, he did survive and 119 days later he came home from the hospital for the very first time since the day he was diagnosed with cancer.  

"But that survival came at a cost. Brock has had 13 surgeries. The fungal infection has left him blind in one eye. The rigorous chemo that's required to treat his cancer left him very sick at an age where development is critical. And so he had gross developmental delays and spent years in therapy trying to get caught up to his peers. But he has caught up so well and today he's a happy, healthy seven-year-old boy.  
"Like Dr. Meyer said, 50 years ago the survival rate for leukemia was less than 10 percent and now it's close to 90 percent. The only reason that has changed is because of research.  
"Children are not just tiny adults. They get different types of cancer that require different types of treatment. Research that is geared specifically toward pediatric cancers is crucial in moving the needle forward towards a cure.  
"That type of research played a direct role in saving Brock's life in 2009 when he needed an experimental drug to save his kidneys from the harmful effects of one of the chemos that Dr. Meyer talked about. We were so thankful that funds were available for that type of life-saving research.  
Brock giving a high-five to Dr. Meyer
as he returns to his seat
"To see the collaboration between TSET, the University, the Stephenson Cancer Center and the Children's Hospital Foundation is extremely encouraging to families like mine. I know that funding from these groups will provide crucial support to the important research being done here in Oklahoma.  
"So, on behalf of Oklahoma's youngest cancer patients we say, 'thank you.'"

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