Boy continues to inspire others year after death

FOX Medical Team

Boy continues to inspire others year after death

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After battling cancer for more of his life, Patrick Chance passed away last January at the age of 9, but before inspiring his family to press on and help other kids facing cancer.

When Erin Chance and her girls Anna and Madison look through old photos of Patrick -- something they do a lot – they see the boy's quirky, gigantic smile.

"The thing I love most about Patrick is he was interested in everything.  He was a collector, he collected birds' nests and acorns, and pieces of wood out of the yard, and seashells and arrowheads," said Erin Chance.

At the AFLAC Cancer Center on Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, Patrick's oncologist Dr. Howard Katzenstein also remembers Patrick as an adventurer.
"And really, whenever he came here, he tried not to let what was happening here effect what was going on outside. So, he came here, got his treatment, but he was ready to go," said Katzenstein.

Patrick was only 3-and-a-half when he first came to Children's Healthcare.   Erin says he'd been feeling off, run down.

"And he woke up one morning and he couldn't walk.  I mean he literally could not stand up.  We went to the emergency room, they thought he had various syndromes, fluid on the hip," said Erin Chance.

It was much worse: neuroblastoma, an aggressive childhood cancer that attacks the sympathetic nervous system.

Patrick went through high-dose chemotherapy and then a stem cell transplant using his own cells. Then the Chances began traveling first to Sloan Kettering in New York, and Children's in Philadelphia for more treatment for 5-and-a-half years.

"He spent almost 200 nights in the hospital, probably 400 other days in clinic visits.  He really fought hard.    But we're so blessed. Because 20 years ago, we would have had him for 6 months, and we got him for an extra five-and-a-half years," said Erin Chance.

Patrick died January 9, 2012 -- his 9th birthday.

To say thank you for Patrick's life, the Chances, working with the family of another young cancer patient, created Press On to CURE Childhood Cancer.  

They raised $200,000 for a treatment room lined with lead. It's a place Georgia kids can come for targeted MIGB intravenous radiation treatments that are available in only a handful of centers in the U.S. The room is connected to a room where child's parents can stay. They can see and talk to each other through a closed-circuit TV system.

"And it typically does not make patients sick at all, the biggest part of it that because they are radioactive for a period of 3 to 4 days, they have to be in a special room, they have to be isolated from their parents, they have to be isolated from their siblings, from the rest of the patients in the hospital," Katzenstein said.

The room means kids like Patrick Chance no longer have to leave Georgia to get these treatments.

It was christened Wednesday, what would have been Patrick Chance's 10th birthday.

For the Chances, it feels like Patrick's life has come full circle.

"You're always looking for that piece of hope, that bright spot. We thought Patrick was put on this earth to accomplish something.  And he accomplished it. He touched so many people.  He changed lives, he changed the source of cancer treatment," said Patrick Chance.

Patrick's sisters are raising money to stock the patient room with toys, since anything the kids bring in could be contaminated with radiation.

RELATED LINK | Press On to CURE Childhood Cancer

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