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HOLMBERG: Child’s cancer fight highlights need for research

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HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Drew Goodman of Beaverdam died one month ago after a brave 8-year battle with a particularly brutal type of brain cancer.

He was just 12 years old when his beloved dog, Ginger Snap, snuggled with him on his hospital bed to say goodbye.

His mom, Gina Goodman, recalled how healthy her son was at birth.

“Perfect childhood, up until he was about 3,” she said. “Then things started going differently. He would drop his words. Mommy and Daddy became Ma and Daa.”

There was speech therapy and a long spell in which doctors thought Drew was suffering from a nasty sinus infection.

“Long story short, they did a CT scan of his brain and found a mass about the size of a large softball.”

“The surgery went well,” Gina recalled. The surgeon cut out most of the tumor. “He came back and said, it’s bad, he’s got 5 to 12 months, enjoy your time.”

Drew had the same kind of brain tumor that killed Ted Kennedy in 18 months.

But he defied the odds, weathering four surgeries, three rounds of chemo and two of radiation as the tumors returned twice.

“Poison, burn, cut. That’s what we did,” Gina said. “It’s what we had to do. The changes in the treatment of kids cancer hasn’t changed in almost 50 years. They’ve come out with one new drug in 25 years. It’s disgusting.”

Gina was by his son’s side virtually every step of his journey. Grilling the doctors, researching, exploring options, while also praising Drew’s medical team and loving his nurses. She was fighting for his son’s life with all of her mother’s heart.

Along with the anguish, Gina feels anger; that between one percent and four percent of all cancer research money is spent on researching childhood cancer.

“Everything goes to the adults,” she said. “Kids don’t make enough money for the big business.”

Since the spring, she’s seen numerous other children treated along with Drew pass away, all from this area, all from cancer.

Every day, she says, seven children die from childhood cancer in the U.S. and 47 more are diagnosed with it.

The whole nation knows October is breast cancer awareness month, she said. The publicity is vast and has started already.

But few know this month is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

“Spread awareness,” Gina pleaded. “Make that once cent (of every research dollar) 50 cents, 25 cents. You know, let’s just make it more, pretty quickly. Because our kids are dying very quickly.”