SPONSORED: Buddy Check 13: Fighting Pediatric Cancer, local family shares their battle

Published: Dec. 28, 2018 at 3:00 PM CST
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When we hear about the number one reason for people dying of cancer, we typically don't think about kids. But doctors say similar to adults, it’s one of the top causes of death for young ones.

While the number may be high, they add the cure rate for pediatric cancer is even better. Some cure rates are above 90 percent.

In this month's Buddy Check 13, you may have heard this young boy’s name before as we share one local family's unexpected battle.

We met up with Carson and Cindy Zwiefelhofer one day after Carson’s 12th birthday at a place they know all too well. It's the Marshfield Clinic Cancer Center in Eau Claire. At the beginning of 2018, Carson was diagnosed with a rare disease known as Langerhans cell histiocytosis. While it's taken a toll on the family, as we enter the New Year, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

“They said it’s all kind of like sledding,” Cindy said. “The truck up the hill seemed forever, but yet, we slid right down and we're almost to the end we hope.”

It's been a long year for Cindy and Carson, but with only a few months to go they hope, things are looking bright.

“So far he's responding to treatment; his tumor is shrinking,” Cindy said. “It's all good news from here, we just hope it continues."

For a strong-willed 12-year-old described as very energetic, outgoing and goofy, sitting in a doctor’s office for hours can be a bit long. It’s especially tiring when they have several appointments, multiple days a week.

“Like this week we have an appoint 4 out of 5 days,” Cindy said. “Typically its every 3 weeks for chemo and then other exams and checkups and more appointments. It adds on when you have this diagnosis.”

So when the drive became a little shorter for them, it was a chance to spend a little more time just relaxing at home.

“We’ve been able to come here a couple of times, so it doesn't feel like it's a whole day or two days you have to take out,” Cindy said.

“We’re able to give chemotherapy here in the Eau Claire Cancer Center and I think that makes a big difference for cancer patients, especially if they have to travel an hour here, that'd be 2 hours to travel to Marshfield,” Dr. Michelle Manalang said, a pediatric oncologist with Marshfield.

Dr. Manalang says the center is one of the first to offer this pediatric service in the area.

“I think we have the ability here to have patients get their labs checked, and not only to come and see the pediatric oncologist and to receive their chemotherapy here.”

While it's been nice to drive a little less, Cindy's main wish: “I hope we can visit these guys a little less” she said. “I’m hoping to get back to more fulltime normal. Scans that say there’s nothing there. I guess that's what my Christmas wish would be; but we don't get that until February.”

Until then, patience and laughter are helping them get through.

For now, Cindy says they'll continue to focus on doing the normal stuff, having sleepovers and of course playing video games, and having hope of a cancer-free future.

This segment is sponsored by Marshfield Clinic Health System.