PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Imagine one day your child is playing, like a normal 2-year-old, and two days later needs brain surgery.
That is the reality for a family from Chippewa Township. Their son, Gage, is battling a rare brain tumor and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is giving them hope.
Music helps Gage Peters escape reality. The precious, loving child in the fight of his life.
“His brain tumor is called an Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor or as we call it ATRT. It’s a very rare, very malignant tumor that affects mostly young children,” said Dr. James Felker, Pediatric Neuro-Oncologist at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Felker has been caring for Gage since August.
Gage’s diagnosis seemed to come out of nowhere.
“He was actually sleeping for two days. He wouldn’t wake up for more than a couple hours at a time,” said Keli Peters, Gage’s mother.
“It was playing with him one day. Sleeping one day. Brain surgery the next,” said Jason Peters, Gage’s father.
Neurosurgeons at Children’s were able to remove most of the tumor.
“He has right-side weakness, so he can’t walk or use his right arm. He hasn’t said anything since the surgery, but we think that will eventually come back,” said Keli.
In the meantime, Gage puts his left hand under his chin to say “I love you’ as he undergoes treatment to shrink what’s left of the tumor.
“We give him high-dose chemotherapy and then, we rescue it with his own bone marrow. And he’s in the middle of that treatment right now and he’s doing remarkably well,” said Dr. Felker.
What is left is still very aggressive.
“With this type of tumor we always worry, but we’re hopeful,” said Dr. Felker.
It’s that hope that gives the Peters family strength.
“We pray and stay connected and all we do is play with him all the time and just make sure he’s always happy,” said Keli.
“Gage is doing really well and we’re optimistic we’re going to get through this. That’s how we feel and that’s how we approach each day,” said Jason.
Hope helps them keep them smiling as Gage keeps fighting.
The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation and KDKA are teaming up for the 65th annual Free Care Fund Benefit show. It starts at 7 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13. It will be broadcast live on KDKA.