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Anderson’s Story

"Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise." Jeremiah 17:14 

Anderson Mark Butzine

07/09/2005 - 07/31/2011

Each day that we were blessed to have Anderson with us, we prayed for his complete healing, "One Miracle at a Time." God answered those prayers when He took Anderson home to heaven, the perfect miracle.



Prior to February of 2006, Anderson was in great health. Born on July 9, 2005, Anderson weighed 8 lbs. 4 oz. and was 20 inches long. At his six month check up he was just under 20 pounds and 27 inches long, and developmentally on track in every way.

After a brief cold, Anderson developed symptoms consistent with a stomach virus with signs of something possibly more serious. He was hospitalized on February 25th for observation and testing.

On February 27, 2006, after a night filled with vomiting and distress, Anderson had a seizure and stopped breathing. He was resuscitated and a Code Blue was issued. A CT scan and MRI revealed a mass in the area of the brain stem and basilar artery. Anderson had emergency surgery to remove the tumor. The result was near-total resection. Our surgeon did an amazing job and, although the operation itself was life-threatening, Anderson made it through. The tumor's location prevented total resection and created several other health issues. Anderson's body is unable to process his cerebral spinal fluid, so a permanent shunt drains the fluid into his abdominal cavity. Nerve damage resulted in temporary right body paralysis and paralysis of Anderson's left vocal cord, palette, tongue, cheek, nose, eye and ear. The paralysis created a high risk of aspiration and Anderson was tube-fed for nearly a year.

Anderson received chemotherapy in an attempt to eradicate the tumor that wasn't resected. This proved unsuccessful. We proceeded with 33 conformal radiation treatments to Anderson's brain. August 15th was Anderson's first post-radiation MRI. We were told to hope for stability and no tumor growth. Before we began radiation, our doctor explained that Ependymoma is slow to respond to radiation and actual tumor reduction would be "remarkable." Well, remarkable is what we got, the MRI showed reduction in tumor! Because of this reduction, further resection of the remaining tumor may have been possible. After a lot of prayerful consideration, we decided to hold off on surgery and watch and wait. The MRI from August showed some areas that our neurosurgeon could not safely remove, and we did not want to take the risks involved with surgery knowing it may do more harm than good.

The next MRI in October clearly showed no growth and potential decrease in tumor. Once again, we opted to watch and wait.

On December 19, 2006, Anderson had his third post-radiation MRI. The results were nothing short of a miracle... MORE reduction in tumor! There was no question of change this time; there was a remarkable amount of reduction! Our team of doctors reviewed Anderson's MRI together at tumor board and we were later informed that there was "no evidence of disease" in Anderson's brain! Any enhancement in the images was thought to be scar tissue and Anderson was tumor free!

After his follow-up MRI on March 15, 2007, we were shocked to see two small areas of tumor in Anderson's spine. The MRI was the only indication that the disease had spread; Anderson remained symptom free. Our team of doctors and their colleagues agreed that the images showed tumor, so we proceeded with more treatment. Anderson underwent 27 radiation treatments to his spine. Our first post-radiation MRI on June 11th yielded good results and the spine has been stable since that time.

An MRI on October 22, 2007 revealed two new areas of tumor growth in Anderson's brain. Anderson began daily chemotherapy, but an MRI in December brought devastating results; significant progression of tumor. The day after Christmas, we went to Chicago in search of more options.

We began an experimental treatment with chemotherapy and anti-angiogenics. Starting in January of 2008, Anderson received the meds by IV every two weeks with MRI's every 8 weeks.  Although things appeared stable from scan to scan, a comprehensive review in May, 2009 showed significant increase of the tumor in the brain. After consulting with our team of doctors, we decided on surgery, followed by more radiation to the brain. 

Anderson's chemotherapy was halted in preparation for the operation. On June 16th, 2009, Anderson had neurosurgery to remove as much tumor as possible without causing long term damage. After a difficult recovery and two additional surgeries, Anderson received 30 radiation treatments to the brain. Chemotherapy resumed in October of 2009.

Significant tumor growth led to another surgery in May of 2010. Despite many new deficits and challenges, the initial surgery was a success. However, before Anderson had a chance to fully recover, the tumor began to grow again. Anderson has lost the ability to do many of the things he loves, but our God is loving and merciful and knows no limits. If it is His will, Anderson will be healed. God's blessings to each of you who have joined us on this journey, "One Miracle at a Time!"

Jon, Michelle, Ella and Anderson Butzine

updated 12/19/10

Latest Journal Update

Ella's Webkinz Fundraiser!

Thank you so very much to everyone who has participated in Ella's Webkinz Fundraiser! As of this evening, Ella is just 35 Webkinz from reaching her goal of 100!!! 

Again, this fundraiser is a combined effort for Ella to earn tuition for her trip to Canada this summer as a Student Ambassador and also to bring smiles to lots of kiddos receiving cancer treatment at Children's Hospital in Milwaukee. (where Anderson received the majority of his care) 

Ella is making a tag for each animal with the name of the donating individual(s) and our personal family motto, "One Miracle at a Time!"  

Webkinz were one of Anderson's favorite toys. He loved playing with the animals almost as much as he liked building his Webkinz World online. Every user gets to choose a unique login, and Anderson was pretty proud to have "ilovebrettfavre" (I love Brett Favre). He wanted to name each of his animals after Brett, but we helped him expand his horizons a little bit! :) Anderson had a brown cow named Brett Favre that he loved the most - it was one of the few things we put into Anderson's arms when we said goodbye. 

Well, my happy little update has become more emotional than I intended, but that's really how much Webkinz meant to Anderson. We're looking forward to bringing a little bit of joy to the kids in the oncology clinic and hope some of them will love their Webkinz as much as Anderson loved his. 

If you're interested in donating, you can email me at michellebutzine@hotmail.com
The cost is $10 per Webkinz and checks can be made out to:
Michelle Butzine
200 Glenwood Road
Oconomowoc, WI 53066

(the photo is Ella and Manny next to the tower of boxes full of Webkinz that have been delivered so far!)