web analytics

Tag Archive | "brain tumor"

Brison Ricker passes away

Brison Ricker (left) playing soccer for the Red Hawk Varsity Soccer team in the fall of 2015, before he began showing symptoms of brain cancer. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

By all accounts, Brison Ricker, 16, was a fighter. But his fight with DIPG, a rare and deadly childhood brain tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine glioma (DIPG), came to an end Saturday morning, December 23, when he passed into the arms of his Lord and Savior.

Brison, the son of Brian and Kim Ricker, of Nelson Township, and brother to Preston, 14, was a happy, athletic, well-liked teen with a strong faith in Jesus Christ. Before his symptoms began in the fall of 2015, he loved riding dirt bikes with Preston, and playing soccer. According to Kim, Brison raced motocross and supercross, and came in second place in the state for the two classes he raced in. He also was on the Varsity soccer team as a freshman that fall and voted offensive player of the year.

Brison Ricker at age 9, with his father, Brian. He played soccer and was training for the Riverbank Run. Courtesy photo.

Brison also loved to run; the Post ran a story on Brison in 2010 when he was nine years old and a third grader at Beach Elementary. He was training to run the Riverbank run—and his dad was going to run with him. 

In 2012, we reported he won first place for boys in the 55m dash at Cedar View, as well as first place in the 100m dash for 11-12-year old boys at the Hershey Track and Field meet that summer.

Brison’s symptoms started around Thanksgiving 2015—dizziness and blurred vision. By January he had a diagnosis of DIPG, which is nearly always fatal and lacks an effective treatment, according to Stanford University. 

According to a news article from Stanford’s medicine news, DIPG affects 200-400 school-aged children in the United States each year and has a five-year survival rate of less than 1 percent; half of patients die within nine months of diagnosis. Radiation gives only a temporary reprieve from the tumor’s growth. In addition, it is inoperable.

By June of 2016, their oncologist advised them to bring in hospice because there was nothing more they could do. It was then that Kim and Brian sought alternative treatment for Brison through the Burzynski Clinic. However, it was not covered by insurance. And the community then began to put on numerous fundraisers to try to help the Rickers fund the expenses related to Brison’s treatment—fundraisers which continued through this Christmas season.

Brison and his younger brother, Preston.

By December 2016, the Rickers found that Preston also had cancer—not DIPG but thyroid cancer, for which he underwent conventional treatment.

Brison had a lot of ups and downs medically, but the treatment did shrink the tumor and the area where it was located (the pons) eventually became scar tissue. Unfortunately, the cancer eventually spread to his spleen and other parts of his brain.

Toward the end, he could not hear or see, and had become unresponsive. The Rickers called in hospice last week, and a prayer vigil was held at their home on Friday evening, December 22. Brison then passed away on Saturday morning.

“He fought so hard until the end, he had big dreams with the determination, perseverence, and talent to make those dreams come true and he did not want to leave this earth,” Kim wrote on her Facebook page. “Brison had unwavering faith until the end and believed he would be healed. Now he is playing soccer and racing dirt bikes in heaven.”

She also thanked those who have supported them. “Thank You to everyone who has provided love and support to our family over the past 23 months since Brison was diagnosed. Our mission to save him did not end with success, but because of so many of you who selflessly gave we were able to provide treatment that extended his life and time with us for an extra 18 months. We made so many memories during that time. He celebrated is 16th birthday, he went to high school dances, we went on vacations, and became closer than ever before. That is time our family will always be grateful for.”

Brison’s funeral will be held on Saturday December 30 at Resurrection Life Church in Rockford at noon, with visitation from 10 to noon. See his obituary here.

Brison is the third Cedar Springs student to pass away this year. Earlier this fall, Emma Orr, a student at Beach Elementary passed away from terminal neuroblastoma; and Cora Gonzalez, a 5th grader at Cedar View, passed away after being hit by a car.


Posted in Featured, NewsComments (0)

Fundraiser for Ricker brothers


Ricker brothers: Brison (left) and Preston (right)

Ricker brothers: Brison (left) and Preston (right)

May 7

There will be a fundraiser for Brison and Preston Ricker on Sunday, May 7, at Patterson Ice Arena, 2550 Patterson Ave SE, in Grand Rapids.

The fundraiser will run from 5-7 p.m. Cost is $5 per person with free skate rental.

There will be food provided for purchase by Classic Kelly’s restaurant, as well as silent auction items and bake sale items, with all proceeds going to the Ricker family.

On January 23, 2016, Brison was diagnosed with an incurable and inoperable brain tumor known as DIPG, which also comes with a zero percent survival rate. However, with alternative treatment from the Burzynski Clinic (which is currently running $20,000 per month) Brison is beating the odds! His strength, determination and strong faith in God to not let cancer win is truly inspiring to everyone.

On December 23, 2016, just 11 months following Brison’s diagnosis, Preston was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer that also had spread to his lymph nodes. Preston had surgery on January 9 to remove the thyroid and affected lymph nodes, followed by radiation treatment. Like his big brother, he also has the strength, determination and faith in God to beat this.

You can follow their story on Facebook by liking the page Team Rickerstrong, and you can donate at gofundme.com/rickerstrong.

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, FeaturedComments (0)

Benefit raises over $2000 for Ricker family


Brison headed back to Texas for more treatment

Classic Kelly’s raised over $2000 for the Ricker family at a spaghetti dinner benefit Sunday evening. Photo from Classic Kelly’s facebook page.

Classic Kelly’s raised over $2000 for the Ricker family at a spaghetti dinner benefit Sunday evening. Photo from Classic Kelly’s facebook page.

By Judy Reed

Classic Kelly’s Family Restaurant put on a spaghetti dinner benefit for the family of Brison and Preston Ricker Sunday night, and raised over $2200 to help them with the medical costs of fighting cancer.

The restaurant put on the benefit during the evening dinner hours, and donated 100 percent of the proceeds to the Rickers. All the employees at the restaurant donated their time to the cause. Dinners were sold for $10 each.

The next fundraiser will be the March can drive at Meijer in Cedar Springs on Monday, 6, starting at 5:30 p.m.

Brison was diagnosed with a rare, inoperable brain tumor called DIPG a year ago, and his younger brother Preston was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in December. Preston has had surgery and other therapy, and Brison has been undergoing alternative cancer treatments since last summer, after his oncologist here said there was nothing more they could do. Those treatments are $17,000 per month, and not covered by insurance.

Brison had showed signs of getting better and feeling better, and his family was hopeful that his latest MRI’s would show that progress. However, according to Brison’s mom, Kim Ricker, the latest spinal MRI shows progression, with several spots on the lining of his brain, and extensive nodular enhancing metastatic disease along his spine. Doctors here had been giving him his Avastin treatment free of charge, but will not do that now, since they don’t believe it is working. That will be another $7,000 per month the family will need to pay. The doctors here have offered full brain and spinal radiation, but Kim said that is not an option they are considering because of the great harm involved with radiation.

They will be traveling back to Texas next week, where Brison will be started on an additional Antineoplaston treatment.

To donate to the Ricker family through their gofundme page, go to https://www.gofundme.com/rickerstrong.

Posted in Featured, NewsComments (0)

Soccer teams raise funds for teen with cancer

Brison being pushed out on to the field during the event. Photo by K. Alvesteffer/R. LaLone.

Brison being pushed out on to the field during the event. Photo by K. Alvesteffer/R. LaLone.

Brison Ricker smiles as he sees his teammates lined up holding signs that spell out Rickerstrong#one at Tuesday’s fundraising game between Greenville and Cedar Springs. Photo by K. Alvesteffer/R. LaLone.

Brison Ricker smiles as he sees his teammates lined up holding signs that spell out Rickerstrong#one at Tuesday’s fundraising game between Greenville and Cedar Springs. Photo by K. Alvesteffer/R. LaLone.

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs and Greenville Varsity Soccer teams might be rivals on the field, but they were teammates for a cause Tuesday evening, October 4, as they raised money for medical treatment for Cedar Springs teen Brison Ricker, who suffers from DIPG, an inoperable brain tumor.

At this time last year, Brison was a freshman playing for the Varsity Red Hawks, and was voted offensive player of the year. He was diagnosed in January with the tumor.

“It was an amazing night and I’m so glad Brison was feeling well enough for our family to be there,” said Brison’s mom, Kim Ricker. “It was incredible how many people came out to support Brison, the stands were full of people and love. We are so grateful to everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to be there, and extra grateful for all the people who volunteered and worked hard to make it such a successful night.”

It was the annual youth soccer night, combined with the fundraising event, so it was nicknamed the #Rickerstrong Game. “The high school soccer parents, along with help from the Student Leadership Council and the Athletic Leadership Council, promoted the event to try to bring in a record crowd and student section to cheer on the boys in their game against Greenville High School,” explained parent Barb Dreyer. “We chose this game to have this event because Brison Ricker played soccer with several of the boys from the Greenville team so it meant a lot to them to be able to help raise money for the family also.”

“We sold T-shirts, cotton candy, glow necklaces, balloons and had a huge auction to help raise money for the family,” explained Dreyer. Greenville and Cedar Springs teams had a pop can drive challenge to see who could bring in the most cans. “Although Greenville brought in a ton of cans, Cedar Springs won because this community is just amazing!” remarked Dreyer. “People who didn’t even go to the game dropped off their cans at the high school anyway. We had to bring in a second trailer to collect them all.”

Both communities helped bring in donations and worked together to raise $4748.20 for the Ricker’s accumulating medical bills, which doesn’t include all the cans. “We also collected an astronomical number of cans that we will return soon to add to that total,” said Dreyer. She said she thinks it could be at least another $1,000.

Brison’s medical bills for treatment are around $17,000 per month. Conventional treatments were not working, and his doctor felt there was nothing more they could do, so the Rickers sought out an alternative treatment for Brison, and he has seen improvement on the protocol.

Dreyer said Coach Kyle Avink gave a touching speech after the national anthem on how cancer has affected every person in some way these days, that we all know someone who has battled, is currently fighting or lost their battle with cancer. Then after a moment of silence they had a balloon release in Brison’s honor.

It was evident that Brison enjoyed the night. When the team lined up on the field with each holding a letter spelling out Rickerstrong #one, a big smile spread across his face.

“I have not seen Brison smile so much in a long time!” remarked Kim. “He was so proud of how hard his team played and that they took home a win. He was especially excited for his best friend Derek Egan who took home the rickerstrong boots last night. He left it all on the field and earned them, well deserved!”

Kim said that Brison will have another MRI next week to see how well the treatment is working. She said that they also now have a couple of doctors helping with wound care. The steroids that he was taking tore his skin apart.

“These wounds are still so painful and are the only thing holding him back right now from pushing hard like he so badly wants to, to gain his strength and mobility back,” explained Kim. “Once these are healed we have no doubt he will be out of his wheelchair and walking in no time! He can’t wait to run down a soccer field again!”

If you’d like to help Brison heal and return to the soccer field, there are several opportunities coming up to do so. The next can drive held by Team Brison will be Monday, October 10, at Meijer in Cedar Springs. They are usually in the early evening. See the Team Brison Facebook page for details. Also, next Saturday, October 15, is a big event at Skinner Field from noon to 5 p.m.—a music festival with food, fun and games to help raise funds for Brison. See page 2 for details, or check out the Team Brison facebook page. You can also make a direct donation by visiting Brison’s gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/brisonricker.

Posted in Featured, NewsComments (1)

Sparta Seniors help out Cedar Springs youth


Sparta Senior Neighbors Center is just a hop, skip and jump from Cedar Springs, and a neighbor to the west of Red Flannel town. So it’s not surprising that the Sparta Senior Neighbors have become cheerleaders to a Cedar Springs youth and his family.

This past spring, Jane Ringler, from Cedar Springs, accepted the position of center coordinator for the Sparta Senior Neighbors. Ringler’s sons attend Cedar Springs High School with Brison Ricker, who has recently been battling a rare brain tumor. Ringler started sharing Brison’s story and the Sparta seniors have been actively following Brison’s journey ever since.

The seniors wanted to take up a collection to assist with Brison’s needs. “Our hearts go out to this family,” said one senior.

“Senior citizens have been through so much over their own life journey,” commented Ringler. “Many have lost their spouses, children and grandchildren. They understand grief and rely upon their faith, as the Ricker family has been. I commend the seniors here, as so many are on limited incomes, yet want to help Brison with what they can.”

Receiving the last update on Brison’s treatment (that the tumor had shrunk to 1/3 of the size it was after alternative treatment) was cause for great celebration at the Senior Center. “We are witnessing a true miracle right before our eyes,” remarked Ringler. “Miracles really do happen. We hope that when Brison is strong enough, he and his family will pay us a visit here at the Sparta Senior Neighbors Center.”

If you are able to help the Ricker family with Brison’s astronomical medical expenses, please go to https://www.gofundme.com/brisonricker. Any amount will help them continue treatment.

Posted in NewsComments (0)

Fundraiser for Brison Ricker


Would you like to be inspired and help out someone in need at the same time? Then mark your calendar and purchase tickets to hear some great speakers at Cedar Springs High School on Tuesday, August 23 at 6:30 p.m. All proceeds from tickets sold will go to help local teen Brison Ricker, who is suffering from an inoperable brain tumor.

Speakers are Tracey Casey-Arnold, founder/CEO of W.I.T. Wellness Consulting, founder of WIT Ministry and Whatever it Takes Radio Network; and Matt Lehr, former NFL football player, NPC Super Heavy Weight and GASP athlete, and NPC Texas Judge. Arnold will speak about using faith to help win in life; Lehr will speak about overcoming adversities.

Tickets are $25 each, with the option to donate more. They ask that you please purchase tickets ahead of time at:  http://www.eventbrite.com/e/brison-ricker-fundraiser-event-with-tracey-arnold-and-matt-lehr-tickets-26959235800. Or go to eventbrite.com and search for Brison Ricker.

For info on this and other fundraisers for Brison, search for the Team Brison page on Facebook.

Posted in Arts & EntertainmentComments (0)

Grieving in the Internet Age

Charlie Waller and his mother Abigail.

Charlie Waller and his mother Abigail.

Charlie Waller loved trick-or-treating, pirates, his kindergarten class at Marble Elementary, his sister, Esther, and so much more during his all-too-brief life.

He died last December from an inoperable brain tumor that slowly robbed him of his ability to play, to walk and to see, but never his kindness. His parents, John and Abigail, have turned to the Internet to help them harness Charlie’s spirit and his kindness by launching a new social media campaign, #CouragetobeKind, in Charlie’s honor.

Charlie, a patient in Hospice of Michigan’s pediatric program, battled his illness for two-plus years, all with the help of family, friends, and a supportive care team. Throughout this experience, John and Abigail relied on social media to keep far-flung family and friends informed of their son’s condition. Abigail launched a blog where she shared imaginary letters to her son, chronicling their journey with courage, profundity and poignancy.

With help of Abigail’s father, they launched the nonprofit Art for Charlie Foundation to raise both awareness and funds for pediatric hospice. Facebook and Twitter accounts were opened to amplify the site and promote its annual art show and sale, as well as this year’s statewide conference on pediatric hospice and bereavement support.

“Social media has become a strong outlet for public mourning,” said Karen Monts, director of grief support service at Hospice of Michigan. “It allows people a medium to express their feelings when experiencing a significant loss, and it also provides an opportunity to ensure the memory of a lost loved one isn’t forgotten.””

When counseling the bereaved, Monts often refers to the Six Tasks of Mourning, as defined by Dr. Alan Wolfelt, grief educator and author of Healing the Bereaved Child. Monts explains that social media can help in achieving each of Wolfelt’s tasks:

Task One: Need to acknowledge the reality of the death. When family members hear word of a loved one’s death, many immediately turn to social media as they process the news. The reality of someone’s passing becomes clear when seeing the details of the death, finality of funeral details, and posts of love and support by family and friends.

Task Two: Need to approach the pain of loss while being supported. Social media not only provides a platform for the bereaved to express pain, but it also gives family and friends the opportunity to offer words of support, which validates and normalizes the grief they feel.

Task Three: Need to remember the person who died. Through blogs, posts and picture sharing, there are countless ways that the bereaved can use social media to share memories of their loved ones. Feedback from family and friends also lets the bereaved know those memories are treasured by others.

Task Four: Develop a new self-identity. This is often one of the more challenging tasks of grief. What role do you play in life now that your loved one is gone? Through open discussion of the deceased life on social media, the bereaved can develop a better understanding of the many roles the deceased played in the lives of others. The bereaved can use that information to determine the new roles they will take on in their own life.

Task Five: Searching for meaning in what has happened: When a loved one dies, it may prompt questions regarding the purpose of life and how such a tragic event could happen. Social Media allows the bereaved to express their questions, concerns and doubts while providing reassurance as one searches for a new sense of purpose or clarity.

Task Six: Experience continued support in future years. Social media provides the perfect medium for the bereaved to share feelings of grief, regardless of how long it’s been since a loved one died. It might be recognition of a birthday or an anniversary of death, or it could be a simple statement like “Really missing my mom today. “Not only does expressing these feelings help the bereaved, but family and friends who see this public expression often respond with encouraging words.

Monts adds that in addition to helping cope with grief, social media can simply provide the bereaved with a needed distraction. However, even with all the benefits, she warns that there can be negatives to using social media in the grieving process.

While publically expressing grief may be helpful to one family member, seeing these reminders on social media may be difficult for a family member who grieves more privately. While Monts advises people to consider others when expressing grief publicly, she believes the benefits of social media in grieving far outweigh the cons.

For the Waller family, social media continues to be a source of solace, education and hope. The launch of their Courage to be Kind social campaign acknowledges Charlie’s gentleness and wisdom in advocating kindness to all.  Wise beyond his years, he argued for tolerance for those who were unkind, explaining that some children (and adults, we would add) have to learn to be kind just as they have to learn their ABCs.

The vision of the campaign is that it will create a system to allow people to report acts of kindness anonymously on social media.  To learn more about Charlie’s story and #CouragetobeKind, visit artforcharlie.org.

Hospice of Michigan offers a variety of grief support and educational services. These programs are available to all families involved with Hospice of Michigan, as well as the community at large. For more information, visit www.hom.org.

Posted in FeaturedComments (0)

Kent Theatre
Advertising Rates Brochure

Get the Cedar Springs Post in your mailbox for only $35.00 a year!