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Facing a Better Tomorrow

The Kreber FamilyThe Kreber Family

Past. Present. Future. These are where Dave and Sally Kreber, parents of three, feel the impact of medical discovery. Like many supporters of the CRI, they look back with progress, look forward with hope and see each day as a gift. "Where would my family - and so many others - be without medical progress," says Dave Kreber. "I cannot even imagine."

Concerned about a low-grade fever her daughter had experienced for a week, Sally Kreber took 7-year-old Monica to the doctor. The diagnosis - acute lymphoblastic leukemia - stunned the family. " It was a Friday afternoon, and I was playing golf when my wife called," says Dave Kreber. "I literally fell to my knees, saying 'She has what?' It seemed impossible."

Monica's type of leukemia is the most common afflicting children today. Due to discoveries in pediatric research, it is also the most treatable. Just decades ago, Monica's prognosis would have been devastating. "Doctors gave us great hope," says Dave. "They also told me that, if I had been diagnosed at Monica's age, the outlook would have been quite different."

Curing Monica took three years of chemotherapy, hundreds of nights in the hospital (including two Christmases), and a dedicated team of MUSC clinicians.

"We owe thanks to so many amazing people," says Dave. "And we realize Monica owes her life to the progress available through medical research, and the doctors who know how to use it."

Monica finished chemotherapy three years ago and today is a healthy 13-year-old. Her family's health challenges, however, continue.

In December 2002, Zach Kreber, the youngest child at age 8, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. "Sally and I don't understand it," says Dave. "We think we must have been put on this earth to care for sick children."

Zach's daily regimen, usually five blood tests and at least three insulin shots per day, has been an adjustment for the whole family.

"To be honest, we are relieved to be at MUSC fighting diabetes instead of leukemia," says Dave. "We're doing everything we can to make sure Zach has a normal life. Getting him the best treatment and access to the newest therapies is the best we can do for him."

Because of ongoing diabetes research at MUSC and other facilities, the Krebers believe that better, easier treatment for diabetes will be available to Zach as he grows older.

The Medical University is building a new islet cell transplantation center that could help Zach and other type-1 diabetics avoid the need for insulin injections. Investigators there say a cure might be on the horizon, in the not-too-distant future.

"The research happening now will change Zach's future," says Dave. "I believe, in his lifetime, diabetes will be just a one-pill-a-day condition, hardly anything to worry about."

As for Monica, the Krebers are optimistic about her future, too. Doctors believe she can bank on a healthy future, free from leukemia.

The Krebers are loyal supporters of the Children's Research Institute. "Scientific research has made such a difference in our lives," says Dave. "We want every family who walks through the MUSC Children's Hospital doors to have the same hope we did."