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Tag Archive | "Burzynski Clinic"

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.

 

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Community pulls together for brothers battling cancer


Carts full of cans were lined up inside and outside the Cedar Springs Meijer store Monday and Tuesday, as volunteers worked to feed over 86,000 of them into the machines. Photo courtesy of Team Rickerstrong.

Carts full of cans were lined up inside and outside the Cedar Springs Meijer store Monday and Tuesday, as volunteers worked to feed over 86,000 of them into the machines. Photo courtesy of Team Rickerstrong.

Teen Brison Ricker, who suffers from an inoperable brain tumor, is getting better with the alternative treatments he is getting from the Burzynski Clinic in Texas. Photo from the Ricker’s gofundme page.

Teen Brison Ricker, who suffers from an inoperable brain tumor, is getting better with the alternative treatments he is getting from the Burzynski Clinic in Texas. Photo from the Ricker’s gofundme page.

By Judy Reed

The greater Cedar Springs community has shown their support over the last nine months for the family of Brison and Preston Ricker, two teen brothers fighting cancer, but the massive number of cans donated at their annual can drive at Meijer this week took everyone by surprise.

This month’s drive started at 5 p.m. Monday, and by 11 p.m. Monday evening, they had to stop counting. Volunteers returned on Tuesday evening, hoping to finish it off. But the cans kept coming, and at last count, over 86,000 cans were donated, and they still have a trailer that is 2/3 full of cans that they are holding until next month.

“We knew that this month’s can drive would be a larger turnout but honestly we were pleasantly shocked at the amount of cans that kept coming throughout the first night and continued again the second night,” said Melissa Egan, of Team Rickerstrong. “It was such a great thing to witness. So many people continue to support Brison in his fight by faithfully donating each month, but when Preston also was diagnosed…the support doubled and that is why we believe it was so much more successful.”

Egan said that they cannot express appreciation enough for the continued support from not only our community, but surrounding communities. “The love, prayers and support for this family is truly amazing. And who would have thought that a can drive that originally started as a way to possibly raise a quick $500 here or there would turn into a monthly fundraiser that has now brought over $30,000! Each month we have loyal volunteers that help feed machines or empty returnables into carts…ranging from adults to kids, all wanting to support the Ricker family.”

Team Rickerstrong started the once a month can drives in July, when the family took Brison to Texas to be seen and treated at the Burzynski Clinic. Dr. Burzynski offered an alternative treatment for Brison’s inoperable brain tumor (DIPG), which conventional treatment could not eradicate. He had been given only months to live. But this alternative costs $17,000 a month, paid up front. And it is not covered under insurance. The good news is that it is working, and Brison is feeling better than he has in months, according to his mom, Kim Ricker. He is eating again, and getting stronger, but not yet walking on his own. He even went to Swirl last weekend, which she said made him really happy.

Preston, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in December, and had it surgically removed in January, is recovering, and will soon start radioactive iodine therapy.

Kim was also thankful for the success of this week’s can drive. “It was incredible to see the out pouring of love and support with all the cans that were donated! Although a majority of them came from this amazing community, we had people from surrounding communities and even as far as Caledonia donating their cans. We feel so blessed and are truly grateful to everyone who donated, and all the people who worked so hard getting over 86,000 cans put in the machines. Of course a huge thanks to Meijer, we could do not do this without their support,” she added.

The Rickers are faced with needing a minimum of $17,000 every month for Brison’s treatment. “This has to be paid up front; it is not like normal hospital bills that can accumulate and be paid back over years,” explained Kim. “If we don’t pay, Brison doesn’t get his treatment. Although the can drive was a huge success and raised more than we could have imagined, that amount covers two weeks of treatment, so the need to keep raising funds is great.”

If you would like to donate, you can visit their gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/rickerstrong, or participate in a fundraiser with Team Rickerstrong at https://www.facebook.com/teambrison/. You can also or send a check to them at 5370 Dio Dr., Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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Community shows outpouring of support for teen with cancer


 

Fundraiser Aug. 23 to help with treatments

Brison Ricker, 15, was on the Varsity soccer team at Cedar Springs High School last year, before being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Brison Ricker, 15, was on the Varsity soccer team at Cedar Springs High School last year, before being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

By Judy Reed

The greater Cedar Springs community and beyond has wrapped its arms around the family of a local teen with a rare brain tumor, and the alternative cancer treatment they are working so hard to help raise funds for is showing signs of working—something that conventional cancer treatment did not do. In fact, the latest MRI on 15-year-old Brison Ricker shows that the tumor has shrunk to 1/3 the size it was previously.

It’s definitely a miracle—especially when you find out that Brison’s parents—Brian and Kim Ricker, of Nelson Township, were told less than two months ago by their conventional oncologist to take Brison home and call in hospice because he didn’t have long to live.

Before symptoms began last fall, Brison was a happy, well-liked and athletic teen, who loved riding dirt bikes with his younger brother 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, and voted offensive player of the year.

His symptoms started around Thanksgiving time with dizziness. “He’s extremely active, so I told him to drink enough water, not to get dehydrated,” explained Kim. The symptoms continued and progressed to blurred vision and seeing double, so she made an appointment with their pediatrician after the first of the year. “They said it was an eye issue and sent us to an eye doctor, who prescribed him glasses. “We got those and they didn’t work,” said Kim. “I had a feeling they wouldn’t. I suspected it was something major.”

Kim asked the pediatrician to schedule an MRI to see what was going on, but he didn’t think it was anything major. “I had to fight with him about it. I finally said I’m taking him to the ER to get an MRI then, and he said o.k.” Brison had the MRI and they got the diagnosis on January 22: the MRI showed a rare and deadly childhood brain tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine glioma (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. It grows through the brain stem, where breathing and heartbeat are controlled, “with the healthy and diseased cells tangled like two colors of wool knitted together,” said Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at Stanford.

Brison Ricker (seated) with Dad (Brian), brother Preston, and Mom (Kim).

Brison Ricker (seated) with Dad (Brian), brother Preston, and Mom (Kim).

The news of Brison’s tumor was devastating for the family. “There’s not words to describe how it felt. We were horrified. Our whole world was crashing down,” shared Kim. She said she also questioned God about it. But Brison’s faith and the support of family and friends helped keep them steady. “He has handled it like a champ. We get strength from him. He has a very strong faith, as do we. And, as soon as we found out, our room was filled with friends from church who came to pray. It helped our focus to be on God’s word and not what the doctors are telling us; to focus on God’s promises and not the diagnosis,” explained Kim.

A Gofundme page was set up for donations, and Team Brison (you can find them on Facebook) began putting together numerous fundraising events to help the family. And people began to pray.

Brison first underwent radiation, and did several alternative treatments at home to help fight the cancer, including eating a strict, healthy, organic diet. Kim said they wanted to go to the Burzynski clinic in Texas in March, when Brison’s radiation was done, because they offered an alternative treatment that had had some success with patients. But she said that the oncologist recommended against it, because he said he had seen people do that and waste their money.

The cost for the first month of treatment down there would be $30,000, and it would be a minimum of $17,000 per month after that. None of it would be covered by insurance. Not to mention the loss of income they would suffer. Faced with that and the fact that the oncologist recommended against it, they didn’t go.

But Brison continued to deteriorate. He lost 25 pounds, and his liver was under stress. The steroids he was on for inflammation broke down his muscle and skin and contributed to fatigue. By the end of April, he needed help to stand, sit, and walk. And his tumor had grown 6mm bigger, and there was swelling in his brain. He continued on steroids and the alternative treatments he was receiving locally.

On June 18, Brison went to the ER because his symptoms were progressing, and had another MRI. The news was devastating—his tumor had doubled in size from just six weeks before and was spreading to other parts of his brain. “The doctors say there are no clinical trials available anywhere for him and there is nothing left that they can do for him, and sent us home to cherish the precious time we have together. They suggested that we call Hospice and said at the rate the tumor is growing they believe his time is very limited,” wrote Kim in a Gofundme update on June 19.
“We went home and called the Burzynski Clinic right away,” said Kim. She researched a few other clinics, but the Burzynksi Clinic was the only one that had any success with treating that type of tumor. And Kim was able to talk with the mother of a 14-year-old that had been treated there, which helped them make their decision. “We prayed about it and felt this is where God was leading us,” she wrote. Additional gene-targeting meds were going to add another $40,000 to the cost, and they didn’t know how they were going to be able to keep the treatments going, but they trusted God and went.

They originally thought they would be there a month, but came back a bit sooner. Some additional new meds the clinic wanted to start him on wouldn’t have been covered there, but the oncologist here agreed to work with them and offered to give them to Brison here, which meant they would be covered by insurance. They still, however, have thousands and thousands of dollars in expenses to be met for other meds.

On Thursday, August 8, they received some amazing news: not only was the tumor one-third the size it was, but it was dying from the inside out. His oncologist here was surprised. “He said he’d never seen any results like this, that basically we were in a gray area of medicine from a regular oncologist’s point of view, because they hadn’t seen this combination of treatments before,” said Kim.

She also spoke with Dr. Burzynski this week, and he wants to continue with the treatment and get an MRI in four weeks. “There is some controversy between the doctors on how treatment will go moving forward but we’ll work it out,” she said. “The main thing is Brison had great results. He is tired and worn, but holding steady. Steady is good. If he was not on this treatment, he would not be with us.”

Kim said that the family has been overwhelmed with the support that they have received, even from people they don’t know. Brison is in awe of it all, especially the little notes or gifts he gets from people. She hopes people will continue to show Brison how much they care about him. “He thinks those gifts and notes are pretty awesome,” she said.

One of the ways their faith in God has helped them through this, is to see how it has affected other people. “A ton of people have said how our faith has strengthened them. It’s amazing to see how through all this we are touching and encouraging people and making their faith stronger,” remarked Kim.

While Brison received good news about his tumor, he is not out of the woods and will need more treatment, which means continuing expenses for the family, and they can only continue the treatments with your help. Another fundraiser has been set for August 23 at Cedar Springs High School at 6:30 p.m. All proceeds will go to benefit Brison. 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.

To donate directly to Brison, visit https://www.gofundme.com/brisonricker or send a check to Brison Ricker, 5370 Dio Dr., Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

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