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Caden’s Story

Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We've created it to keep friends and family updated on Caden. Please note: CaringBridge has a link for donations. All donations made here go to CaringBridge to support their website. Donations do not support Caden's cancer treatment. If you want to show your support for Caden directly, please go to www.team-fc.com or the Caden Shrauger Benefit Fund at Big Sky Western Bank.

Caden Shrauger - a happy, smart, kind, and loving little boy growing up in Bozeman, Montana. From birth, he could be found spending his summers camping at the lake, often entertaining his older half-siblings and all others he encountered with his silly antics. Winters were spent exploring Montana’s snowy landscape and learning to ski. At age 3, he started pre-school and was especially proud of becoming a big brother in October 2011.

In March 2012, three months shy of his 4th birthday, Caden began complaining of occasional leg pain. Then, he developed a low-grade fever and began complaining of neck and hip pain. The fever and pain persisted and Caden became very lethargic. Blood work showed very high indicators of inflammation and anemia. X-rays, ultrasounds, and a bone scan all appeared normal. Nothing was lining up to provide a clear diagnosis and his fever and pain continued. An MRI then showed abnormalities in the bone marrow of his hips, legs, and spine. His right adrenal gland was also slightly enlarged.

On March 30, 2012, Caden was flown 700 miles from home to Seattle Children's Hospital. The initial fear was leukemia, but a bone marrow test pointed toward another type of cancer – Neuroblastoma.

On April 3, Caden was diagnosed with Stage 4, High Risk Neuroblastoma, a solid tumor cancer of immature cells within the sympathetic nervous system; it is difficult to treat. Caden began an aggressive course of treatment on April 7, 2012. Six rounds of high dose chemotherapy were administered over 5 months. On July 30, the primary tumor site and adrenal gland were removed. Slowly, between the associated side effects of vomiting, exhaustion, mouth and throat sores, blood infections, NG feeding tubes, and viruses, Caden’s strength and cheerful, funny nature returned. He began to walk, even run, and play with his sister again.

Scans in late August 2012 revealed that although the cancer was not worse and had been reduced some, it did not respond as well as hoped, nor enough to proceed with the anticipated autologous bone marrow transplant. Caden then completed a seventh round of chemotherapy and traveled to San Francisco for specialized intravenous radiation therapy (I-131 MIBG therapy). This treatment significantly reduced the amount of cancer present, and Caden moved forward into transplant and traditional radiation therapy in early 2013.

In March 2013, he began six months of immunotherapy, including five rounds of difficult inpatient antibody infusions and six rounds of therapy trying to turn the cancer cells (immature nerve cells) into benign, matured nerve cells. Finally on September 11, 2013, after 17 months of treatment, scans showed that Caden had "no evidence of disease". He and his family lived in an RV in the hospital’s parking lot for over a year and returned home to Montana.

Less than two months later in November 2013, a small amount of neuroblastoma was found in his marrow, and he was then considered "relapsed". His blood was collected for a trial in Texas using his T-cells; the cells are engineered in a lab to fight neuroblastoma. During the time while the cells were engineered and FDA requirements of the trial were worked out, he did six rounds of the medication that can mature the neuroblastoma cells into benign ones from home. During that treatment, he had two sets of "no evidence if disease" scans but the final one again showed a few neuroblastoma cells. When preparing to go to Texas for chemo and his T-cell infusion, his scans showed "no evidence of disease" and he became ineligible for that trial but eligible for another trial available through Primary Children's in Salt Lake City. In July 2014, Caden started on a low intensity drug called DFMO that will hopefully provide a good quality of life and keep his disease at bay.

We all long for the day when a cure is found.


Latest Journal Update

DFMO Cycle 12, Day 17: Last Day of Kindergarten

I’m in a state of (good) disbelief.  Caden finished kindergarten today.  The year went by SO fast and Caden made tremendous advances.  He is reading, writing, doing math problems, drawing pictures, singing, running, playing T-ball, and has developed a new level of independence.  He loves to learn and doesn't want the school year to end.  Huge kudos to his awesome teacher for making it a great year.  I feel a deep sense of gratitude for where we are.  Our half-joking goal at the start of kindergarten was “event-free survival”, and incredibly, we got that!!  Such a wonderful feeling!  The goal we actually wrote down was “normalcy” and we have certainly done that, too.   One year ago, we were still reeling from the finding of neuroblastoma once again in Caden’s bone marrow, preparing for the trial in Texas.  But now, rather than normal activities feeling strange like they did at the beginning of kindergarten, the medical stuff related to Caden’s care that was once so integrated into our lives is now the abnormal stuff we have to deal with. I’m just so happy to report that our little guy has graduated to first grade and is thriving by all outward appearances.  My morning Bible verse really spoke to my heart: “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.” Philippians 1:9

I’m enormously thankful for the DFMO trial that became our only option with Caden’s fluctuating relapse/remission status.  While he’s had a fair share of challenges because of the reversible hearing loss caused by the DFMO, he’s also had three sets of scans with no evidence of disease since he started on it almost one year ago.  We are hopeful this is the ticket to a sustained remission!

Up until Tuesday, we were planning on being in Seattle for scans next week, but the trial protocol just changed for less frequent scanning of patients in the second year of the trial. We were happy to learn that Caden doesn’t need to be scanned again until late July and his Seattle team agreed. He still needs to be seen in Salt Lake City every three months, so we will be going there soon, and he will continue to have monthly visits with his pediatrician here.   While good scan results bring reassurance, the anxiety and disruption they create is taxing.  I’m thankful for the extra month to simply enjoy and live our lives.  It’s such a gift.

Caden is turning 7 on the 30th!  When did he become such a big kid?!?  In celebration, we are preparing for the 4th Annual Get Poked For Caden blood drive on 6/25. To schedule an appointment, go to bloodhero.com, “locate a blood drive”, and use the sponsor code “getpokedforcaden”. Caden, who has been "poked" over 150 times, says he'll hold anyone's hand that needs it.  For those outside the Bozeman area, we’d love it if you donated wherever you are and let us know about it.  The Fourth of July is usually a time when blood donations are in high demand.  Caden received 35 transfusions of blood products during his treatment and we love all of you that help us give back in this way.

I’ve also been actively working on my annual fundraising effort for pediatric cancer research.  I’m going to try to run a full marathon in September!  It’s only June and I’m already wondering if I’m crazy, but I know that if I stick to the program, I can do this.  If kids can fight cancer every day, I can certainly do this.  They need better cures – ones with survival rates of 100% and much fewer side effects and long term impacts.  We’d love it if you’d consider donating in honor of Caden’s birthday.  My fundraising page is: https://bentownefoundation.myetap.org/fundraiser/2015TeamBTF/individual.do?participationRef=1188.0.80680979  Thanks so much to everyone that has already donated!  I’m looking forward to doing the Narragansett Summer Festival half marathon in Massachusetts next month.  This race happens to be on the day that Camryn is exactly the same age as Caden was when he was flown to Seattle.  This will be on my heart.  Life gets tough and crazy raising kids, but I will never take the challenges or the joys for granted.

Love and gratitude to all of you.  Happy summer! 


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6 Comentarios

susan backstrom
By susan backstrom
Angel Battles
By Angel and Tracey Battles
I feel so emotional, that I'm just bawling. I so admire you Pam. But my tears are happy because I am so, so, overjoyed and grateful to God for Caden. Thank you Jesus!!! Our God is an awesome God. Bless you Caden and family.
Lorrie Loeper
By Lorrie Loeper
Hi Pam and family,
Whitney just asked me this morning if I had any news about Caden lately. Well, we do! What great news!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Smiles and love from your Upton friends.
The Loepers and Doug Keniston
Katherine Condon
By Katherine Condon
We are so happy to hear all of this good news! Congratulations to Caden as he moves on to first grade!
Good luck with the running Pam - we know you can do it. We're behind you no matter how far you get.
Thank you for keeping us up on your progress throughout.
Katherine and Dennis Condon and the Condon/Kiehling family
Sue Koslovsky
By Sue Koslovsky
How far you and Caden have come! Congratulations on clean scans. We will keep praying and sending positive thoughts for your family. Please pray for our little granddaughter, Kate Koslovsky, who is six years old and has been battling Neuroblastoma stage 4, high-risk since she was 2 years-9 months. She, too, just completed Kindergarten. I am so glad you have had such good results after all the ups and downs. You deserve it! Much love, Kate's grandparents.
Glenda Howze
By Glenda Howze
Awesome! Congrats on the Kindergarten triumph! Praying for clear scans in July, and cheering you on in your marathon. Blessings to all!