And even after being diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer, called Pediatric Spitzoid Melanoma, Charlie still remains the spunky, silly three-year old he always has been, putting on a brave face as he fights cancer every day from the confines of a hospital room.
His story started back in April 2014, during what, for his parents Kristen and Josh Bartzen, seemed like a routine doctor’s visit to check an unusual mole taken off Charlie’s left arm. They left the doctor that day with the words that every parent dreads to hear ringing in their ears, ‘Your toddler has cancer.’ So what began as a normal summer for any three-year old –swimming in the pool, baseball games and lazy Sunday nights toasting smores with his two older brothers, PJ and Tate -- morphed into a grueling ordeal that left him watching the summer go by from his hospital window.
Because Charlie’s case is so rare, with only very few known cases in the United States, Kristen, Josh and Charlie traveled from Aurora, Illinois to MD Anderson in Houston, Texas to consult with specialists dedicated to this form of cancer. Their stay lasted five exhausting weeks, with Charlie having several surgeries taking out wide margins on his arm, a lymph node biopsy, and enduring a complete lymph node dissection. Still, Charlie was all smiles when he woke up from each and every surgery – thankful to be up and ready for popsicles, playing with his wrestling buddies and hugs with his mommy.
Now, Charlie and his parents are back in Illinois, and Charlie has started a rigorous regimen of chemotherapy (interferon) that will continue throughout the course of the year. And every couple months for the next several years, they’ll travel back to Houston for testing, appointments, tests, and checkups. This is just the beginning of a long healing process for little Charlie and his family.
Luckily, insurance covers the basic elements of Charlie’s cancer treatment but, unfortunately, costs go well beyond that. Travel expenses, special procedures and certain treatments for which Charlie will continue to experience for the next several years, if not longer, are a very real financial burden on the young family of five.
To help alleviate some of the stress for the Bartzen family and allow them some semblance of a normal life while going through this terrible time, please contribute as little or as much as you’d like. Your donation will be immensely appreciated and will go a long way towards offsetting the very real out-of-pocket expenses the Bartzens are realizing as they try and work through this family emergency.
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