Thursday, January 28, 2010

Update on Reuven Ben Tova Chaya

6 years old. That’s how old Reuven is. He was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, 3 and ½ years ago. Stage IV.

He has gone through multiple chemotherapies and cutting edge orthopedic surgery. His cancer is still there. It is on his lung. Fortunately it has so far not spread beyond that.

He is in the middle of yet another chemotherapy. Doctors know that chemotherapy in his case is not curative. But they are administering it as a maintenance since it has eliminated or reduced his tumors in the past. The problem is the tumors keep coming back. Doctors are buying time in the hope that a new treatment will be developed that will be curative.

In spite of all this, one would never know Reuven is sick. That’s because of the way his family, friends, and teachers treat him. He is a normal kid. In fact he is kind of a celebrity in his class. His friends love him.

Reuven may be a child in years but he is much more than that in character. I never before saw a 6 year old Daven and Bentch like he does. On his own without being asked. When he visited here last I saw him walk into the living room early on Shabbos morning, take a Siddur, sit down on the couch and say Brachos. I don’t think he skipped a single word. Most six year olds wake up and find a toy to play with. Not Reuven. He never has to be told to Daven. My daughter told me that he does this all the time.

Speaking of my daughter she sent out an update on Reuven to friends and family. With her permission I am posting it here.

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been almost 3 ½ years since our son, Reuven, was diagnosed with Stage IV Ewing’s Sarcoma, a very serious form of cancer. From high dose chemotherapy and radiation, to multiple surgeries, Reuven has certainly undergone more challenges than the average 6 year old. And yet, his battle is not over. The cancer has come back more than once. But, with the help of Hashem, he is still fighting!

All this being said, we truly feel that we have so much to be thankful for. First and foremost we thank Hashem for carrying us through this challenge every step of the way. Many people have asked us, “how do you do it?” It is Hashem who gives us the strength each and every day to be able to go on and lead a “normal” life.

To our family and friends, how do we express the proper Hakaras Hatov for all that you have done for us both physically and a spiritually? How many times have tears been brought to our eyes upon hearing about Mitzvos that people have taken on or strengthened as a merit for our son! Challah baking, Learning, Shmeras Halashon, Tzedaka, Minyanim gathering at the Kotel at Chatzos Halayla to finish the entire Sefer Tehillim, and so much more!

Many times these things have been done by people we do not even know! And what about the cooking, the babysitting, the hospital runs, the visits, the moral support? Mi K’amcha Yisroel! We could never thank you enough!

And the Tefillah! The tremendous outpouring of Tefillah! We know that each and every Tefillah is savored by Hakadosh Baruch Hu, and they are surely helping Reuven, ourselves, and all of Klal Yisroel!

So now what? It seems that although, Baruch Hashem, his cancer has responded well to chemotherapy, it has not brought about the cure. Microscopic cancer cells have lingered in his body causing him to relapse numerous times. Therefore the doctors feel that we need to search elsewhere for a cure. Reuven is about to start a new Phase I study. This means he will be getting experimental medicine.

No, he is not the first one to ever get it, but it has not been given out enough yet to be FDA approved. It treats cancer differently than conventional chemotherapy. We have no idea how he will respond but we daven that it will be through these means that Hashem, the true Rofei Cholim, will send him a Refuah Shelaima. He still desperately needs our Tefillos! He starts this new protocol IY”H this coming Monday.

They will scan him about one month later to see if his existing tumor has responded to this new treatment. Please continue to intensify your Tefillos for Reuven Ben Tova Chaya.

Once again we thank you all for everything and hope, please G-d, to share Besuros Tovos with you!

All our gratitude,
Menachem (Neil) and Tovi Kirshner