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BLACKSTONE â€” Never give up.
Those were the three words Cory Gaudet lived by every day; words that not only inspired him to forge during his 19-month battle with a terminal brain tumor, but also inspired the family members and friends who shared his short, but remarkable life.
Cory, the son of Jim and Teresa Gaudet, was diagnosed in January 2011 at the age of 16 with an inoperable brain tumor (brain stem glioma). He underwent two convection-enhanced delivery (CED) clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. CED is a technique that uses continuous pressure to push large molecules through the membranes, protecting the brain, to reach brain tumors. The technique can treat a tumor more directly than with traditional methods.
"Cory was the first person to ever have this procedure done twice and one of only a few to ever have it in the world," says his mother, Teresa Gaudet. "Just 15 days after this 12-hour brain surgery involving his brain stem, Cory not only defied the odds with walking, but he also went snowboarding on Jan. 1, 2012."
Although by March 2012 he could no longer walk and he lost the use of his left hand, as well as his ability speak, Cory made the best of every day, making people laugh. And in June of last year, he proudly receieved his diploma from Blackstone-Millville Regional High School.
"His never-give-up attitude changed many," says his mother.
On Aug. 9, 2012 â€” just four days before his 18th birthday â€” Cory lost his courageous 19-month battle.
He may have died, his family and friends say, but his never-give-up attitude did not. It is alive and well and will be carried on by many for years to come.
Now, Cory's family and friends have decided to pay it forward by starting an organization called Cory's Crusaders, Inc., which will assist families with children battling brain tumors and raise awareness and research dollars.
Diffusely infiltrating pontine glioma (DIPG) or supratentorial high-grade glioma (HGG) are brain tumors that are often difficult to treat. It is hard getting chemotherapy agents to tumors in the brain, and researchers are looking for new methods to directly treat these types of cancer.
DIPG is very rare. A pontine glioma occurs in a most delicate area of the brain stem (the "pons"), which controls many critical functions, including breathing. Its location, as well as its infiltrating pattern, means a pontine tumor cannot be safely removed through surgery. Chemotherapy is frequently ineffective, since anti-cancer drugs cannot cross the blood-brain barrier and reach the tumor. Radiation is the most common treatment, but unfortunately the benefit is only temporary and does not provide a cure.
"DIPG affects about 200 children per year, and once diagnosed they are given approximately nine to 12 months to live," says Teresa Gaudet. "Although we had excellent health insurance, it still cost us over $30,000 in just 10 months, excluding parking, gas, hospital food and other travel expenses, to get treatments out of town. There is also the issue of lost wages from having to be out of work to care for your child."
According to Gaudet, there has been no significant increase in survival rates over the past three decades.
"Sadly, there has not been any new approved treatments for our sonâ€™s disease in almost 30 years and most childhood cancers have not seen new approved treatments in 20 years," she said. "This needs to change and our children need to be heard."
Cory's Crusaders will hold its first organized event - a 5K Road Race & Relay Walk - on Sunday, May 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Blackstone Millville Regional High School, 175 Lincoln St.. The race - which starts at 9 a.m.- and the relay - which starts at 10 a.m. - are open to the public. The Crusaders will be giving away two $500 scholarships that day - one to a boy and one to a girl - in Grades 9-12 from any school that registers and completes the race.
In addition to the road race, there will be a Relay for Life-style walk all day on the track. There will also be cash prizes, games, food, baked goods and craft tables.
"We are really hoping to make it a fun day for the entire family," says Teresa.
To learn more about Cory's journey you can log onto his carepage at www.carepages.com/carepages/CoryEdwardspage.
For more information about Cory's Crusaders and the May 5 Road Race & Relay Walk, including the race registration fees, visit www.coryscrusaders.org or the group's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Coryscrusaders.