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Patient Perspective

Living with Cancer

Until Chase Ringler was three years old, he was a healthy, normal little boy; he never even got colds. Then one day he began limping on his right leg. Leg X-rays showed nothing out of the ordinary, even when the limp shifted to his left leg. When he woke up with a stiff neck and fever, his mom, Whitney, thought he had meningitis and took him to MUSC Children’s Hospital. CT scans of his head and neck were fine, and the doctors were puzzled until she told them about Chase’s night sweats. A CT scan of his abdomen revealed the worst: a Stage 4 tumor on his adrenal gland. By that time, the cancer had already spread to his bone marrow and skull.

“Within the space of about three weeks, he went from being perfectly healthy to having Stage 4 cancer,” said Whitney. “It was quite a shock. They gave him a 30 percent chance of survival.”

Chase RinglerAlong with surgery to remove the tumor, Chase lost one kidney and had eight rounds of high-dose chemotherapy, followed by 14 rounds of radiation therapy. He is also participating in a clinical trial of antibody therapy.

After the third round of chemotherapy, MUSC physicians harvested Chase’s peripheral blood stem cells. Even though his bone marrow had been 95 percent invaded by the cancer, immunocytology revealed that his stem cells were cancer-free and could be transplanted to protect him from the side effects of the chemotherapy. He recovered fine from the transplant, but is still fighting for his life.

“We cope day by day,” said Whitney. “We live for today and try not to think too much into the future — just enjoy every moment we have.”

“The doctors and nurses at MUSC are like our second family,” she added. “They got him to where he is now. We wouldn’t have him today if it weren’t for them.”

The Ringler family has established a fundraising web site, www.chaseafteracure.com, to support MUSC’s neuroblastoma research.