ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING: Freshman’s battle with cancer takes him across country

Freshman+Cade+Pearson+while+on+a+trip+to+New+York+for+his+cancer+treatment.
Freshman Cade Pearson while on a trip to New York for his cancer treatment.

Freshman Cade Pearson while on a trip to New York for his cancer treatment.

Freshman Cade Pearson while on a trip to New York for his cancer treatment.

EMILY JAMES, Staff writer

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“You have cancer.” It’s a terrifying thing to hear, a nightmare. In November 2012, this became a possibility for freshman Cade Pearson when doctors told him he may have melanoma, a rare type of skin cancer. In March 2013, these words became a reality. Cade was diagnosed with Spitzoid Melanoma, which is similar to a benign skin lesion. Unfortunately, however,  his was cancerous. 

Melanoma is usually found in people ages 30-63. Cade was 11 when he was diagnosed. Being so young makes it difficult to treat.

The road for a cure has led Cade to many different locations. He has been from St. Jude’s in Memphis, Tenn., to New York City all the while taking numerous different treatments that were not only a first for Cade but also a first for medical science.

“I have to get special exceptions to undergo some treatments, like if they’re in trial some companies still only want adults doing their treatment,” Cade said.

Cade has to have special clearance to do certain experimental treatments because the more conventional treatments have proven not to work.

“Melanoma is typically considered an adult cancer,” Cade’s mother Kristin Pearson said. “Most of the research studies are not intended for pediatric patients. Cade was the first pediatric patient to have a full dissection of lymph node section at Children’s Hospital in Dallas. He was the first pediatric patient to undergo an isolated limb infusion in the United States. He has had this surgical procedure twice.”

An isolated limb infusion is a rare procedure that consists of a high dose of chemotherapy put directly to a certain area, like an arm or a leg.

Cade was the first pediatric patient in the U.S. to try T-Vec immunotherapy, which directly kills cancer cells in the lymph nodes and in the skin. Immunotherapy is a type of cancer medication that directly uses the immune system to fight off cancer cells like melanoma.  

As part of his treatment, Cade is now part of a Phase 1 trial study in New York City. If his response to this new study is positive he will stay on the treatment indefinitely, going back and forth between New York and Kaufman bi-weekly. When he returns to New York he undergoes tests to make sure his body is reacting well to the treatment. Luckily he is an outpatient which means, according to Kristin, that he is allowed to be around people and go see the city.

On days that he doesn’t have a scheduled appointment and feeling well, Cade and his family sightsee and check out New York City including the Staten Island Ferry, Central Park, and even the 9/11 Memorial.

For most people all the treatment and travel would be overwhelming, but Cade is dealing with the new experiences well.

“It doesn’t really bother me that much,” Cade says.

In his free time Cade enjoys spending time with friends, attending his local church, and playing various sports including baseball and basketball.

Despite his outward calmness throughout the process, Cade’s cancer is still dangerous. A year ago, his story caught the attention of the Make-A-Wish foundation, an organization that grants one “wish” to kids with life threatening diseases. Because of this organization Cade saw the beauty of the Hawaiian islands first-hand. From soaring over a volcano to diving underneath the blue water surrounding the islands, he experienced the sights and sounds of the Aloha State.

Through his various treatment plans and crazy travel schedules, family and friends are amazed at his positivity and how well he handles everything and adjusts.

“He is one tough young man,” Cade’s mother says. “Through years of trying different things, he has kept a good attitude and continued to pursue his interests at school. He has managed to do as many normal things as possible while dealing with treatments, side effects, and tons of travel. And we love him!”       

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1 Comment

One Response to “ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING: Freshman’s battle with cancer takes him across country”

  1. Callee Wwells on September 25th, 2017 10:57 pm

    What a wonderful article, Emily! I needed an update. Keep up,the good work! We sure miss you.

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