News: Neillsville - Support for Boy Battling Cancer (Sep 2017)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Drescher, Anderson, Diestler, Gaier

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 10/11/2017

Support is Overwhelming for Neillsville Boy Battling Cancer

Cody Drescher, 9, and his parents, Christine and Nick Drescher of Neillsville, strike a pose in front of a special quilt made by the Calvary Lutheran Church quilting group. Cody is making progress in his battle against cancer and the family was humbled by a recent fundraiser hosted by the church to assist with medical and other expenses. (Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press)

By Todd Schmidt

A simple fall on a slide back in June led to a rollercoaster of medical issues for Cody Drescher, 9, of Neillsville.

Last Sunday, Cody, his parents Christine and Nick Drescher, and pastor Chad Anderson and his wife Courtney met at Calvary Lutheran Church in Neillsville to provide an update on his medical condition, and to discuss a recent fundraiser held at the church to assist the family with expenses.

Cody, who is in grade 4 at Neillsville Elementary School, was initially treated for pain on his right side at the Memorial Medical Center (MMC) emergency room. Just a few days before, he was just another happy child riding his bike to summer school.

Three days after his accident, Cody’s condition worsened. An x-ray and CT scan revealed a collapsed lung and a 5-inch mass in the center of his chest.

“The doctor said in less than a week, Cody could have passed away in his sleep due to the huge mass in his chest, Christine said.

Cody was referred to Mayo Hospital in Rochester, MN. On Father’s Day, he was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic Lymphoma. He observed his 9th birthday in the hospital June 29.

“They did a biopsy though his side and discovered the cancer,” Christine said. “They didn’t want to sedate him too well, because they were concerned about his windpipe collapsing.”

Cody was shipped via ambulance to Rochester. Nick said the expense is being disputed by their insurance company, who is stating the trip to an out-of-network facility wasn’t pre-authorized.

Mom and dad rushed to the hospital with their son with little more than the clothes on their backs. Nick stayed at the hospital for 17 days, while Christine stayed for the duration.

Cody was released from the hospital June 30. He and the family couldn’t go any further than the Ronald McDonald House, which is within walking distance of Mayo.

Eight neurologists were involved in Cody’s evaluation. They were concerned about blood leaking into his spinal fluid that could cause paralysis.

“He doesn’t like needles and would wake up screaming from the pain in his back,” Christine said. “They had to put him on morphine for a while.”

Cody had a port installed to accommodate weekly chemotherapy treatments, and multiple blood transfusions. He had an allergic reaction to one transfusion. He developed a severe case of hives, and his throat began to close.

“You should have seen that doctor hustle up there,” Nick said. “They are really on top of things at Mayo. The staff is great. Mayo is a huge place, but now I can tell you where almost everything is. It is sad to see all the kids there with some form of illness. It’s almost unbearable.”

Cody was on steroids for about a month to build up his body to handle the chemo treatments.

He was able to return to Neillsville in early August, just before the Clark County Fair.

Christine administers his day regimen, which includes three pills per day and one dose of chemo through his port.

“They monitor his white blood count, trying to keep it up so he can fight infections,” Christine said. “We also worry about fevers. The doctors are concerned about anything over 101.4. He would need antibiotics within an hour.

“We also have an EpiPen to be used if he is having trouble breathing. It will buy us time to get to the hospital.”

Recent x-rays show Cody’s tumor has been shrinking. His lung as not filled up with fluid again.

“The doctors say everything is on track,” Nick said. “A treatment plan could take three years.”

To build up his strength, Cody has started physical therapy sessions at MMC.

Cody can’t go near animals other than his dog, a Chihuahua named Cocoa. He has to avoid large crowds and had been unable to return to school. His teacher, Mrs. Diestler, and retired teacher Karen Gaier are helping Cody do his school work at home.

Nick said Cody likes to put Legos together to stay occupied. He also enjoys playing with Cocoa.

“Cody had a thumbs-down attitude for a while, and now he’s decided he is a fighter,” Christine said. “He wants to get better so he can ride his bike, go on a long family trip and return to school.”

Christine said Cody has always been a well-rounded eater, with pizza being his favorite food.

She puts down food now to see if Cody will eat it; bacon and eggs and popcorn go good on certain days.

Christine has been able to return to work at the Neillsville Kwik Trip, while Nick has resumed his occupation as a self-employed truck driver. They have medical insurance, which Nick said is based on their income. They have not suffered a lapse in coverage.

“Work came to a complete halt,” Nick said. “We really didn’t care if we went back. We only had one thing on our minds, and that was getting Cody thru this.”

Courtney said she and Chad reached out to the family at the Clark County Fair to determine their needs. They have a son who is the same age as Cody. Courtney is a substitute Sunday school teacher for them both.

“We talked to a few people and created a Facebook page,” Courtney said. “Approximately 20 people from Calvary showed up at a planning meeting. Everybody wanted to do something, and the whole concept of a fundraiser kind of exploded.”

Fittingly enough, the benefit was held after church on Rally Sunday, Sept. 10, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. By all accounts, it was overwhelmingly successful.

“It was definitely a Calvary and community thing,” Chad said. “Many members of the congregation and folks from the community helped at the event. The church family is something special. In a small town, people really come together to support each other.”

Brats or hot dogs, chips and a drink were sold for $5 per plate. The food sold out in 35 minutes, and the huge table of baked goods was gone in less than an hour. Raffle tickets (50/50) were sold in arm’s lengths. Sellers ran out of tickets, and a local business person brought some more.

The benefit featured other raffles, numerous items in a silent auction, use of Thrivent Action cards and hay rides.

“Many people commented how great it was to be a part of this,” Courtney said. “they couldn’t believe it. People donated so many nice items for the silent auction. I actually had goosebumps, because I had never seen anything like this before.”

“We are members of Calvary and I have lived in Neillsville my whole life,” Christine added. “I didn’t know many of the people walking through the door.”

Nick said he was humbled by the experience and was looking for a way to return a fair donation to the church.

“It was amazing the way everybody so overwhelmingly supported us,” Nick said.

Chad said the Calvary quilting group thought it would be cool to collect handprints the day of the benefit and sew them into a huge quilt for Cody. He said a special presentation would be scheduled for a later date.




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