By Joyce DeWallace, Contributing Writer
Northborough – A fundraiser to support 6-year-old Northborough resident Christian Campero in his fight against leukemia will be held Saturday, Sept. 13, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the American Legion Hall, 402 W. Main St. ?The family event will feature entertainment by the Superstars” DJ Russell Lesman, raffles, a silent auction, appetizers and desserts along with a cash bar. The price of admission is $10. Friends of the Campero family have organized the party to help defray the cost of medical bills.
According to Christian's mother Tricia, in August of 2012, her mother, Pat Larson, noticed that Christian had swollen lymph nodes and “snored really, really loud.” He was taken to the pediatrician and tested for strep, but the results were negative. By the next day, his face looked swollen, so back they went for more tests.
Tricia recalled the phone call that would change their lives. “The white blood cells looked abnormal and the pathologist feels its leukemia,” the doctor told them, and immediately sent them to UMass Medical Center.
Dad Cesar Campero was shopping in Walmart with Christian and his other son Alex, 5, when he got the news. Both parents were reeling from the shock; devastated, scared and confused, yet trying to maintain a good front for the children. Arrangements were made for Alex, and the family made the first of hundreds of trips to UMass and started treatment with a pediatric oncologist.
The Camperos learned that leukemia is treatable and curable. After the initial period of hospitalization, Christian went for chemotherapy every week.
“We assured Christian that Mommy and Daddy would always be there for him,” Cesar said.? “We stayed with him for the first 11 days.”
Within the first fifteen days of treatment, Christian was in rapid response remission, and remains in remission to this day. He now is on nightly doses of oral chemotherapy and goes to the clinic once a month.
“The first six months were awful,” Tricia recalled. “One of us was in the hospital every week, but the support has been tremendous. From the beginning, Christian was paired up with a medical student, Walter Palmer, as part of the Sidekick Program. He visits him and plays with him whenever Christian is admitted or is in for chemo.? He has become part of the family. Christian looks forward to seeing him, so the hospital trips aren's so scary.”
Christian, who will enter the first grade at Proctor School this fall, has his own white scrubs, a gift from the UMass Child Life Center. He proudly displays a retractable ID badge, which he received because, “I wanted to pretend to be a doctor. When I grow up I want to be a doctor that doesn's give pinches (shots) because they hurt.”
The Camperos rave about Why Me and Sherry's House, a support group for families dealing with pediatric cancer.
“Danielle Perron came into the clinic and introduced herself with a gift of a tote bag with toys, games, and gift cards. It's a very positive environment with parent-to-parent support groups,” said Tricia. “I don's know what I would have done without this organization.”
Guests at the fundraiser are asked to bring non-perishable food or paper goods to benefit the group. (See whyme.org/wish-list.php for specific needed items).
“The community has been extremely generous helping out, bringing food, watching Alex,” said Tricia.
Added Cesar, “We underestimated how much we need people and how much people helped us. We didn's want to ask for help. Now when Christian's doing well, we'se doing well.”
More information about Christian and the upcoming fundraiser is available at gofundme.com/ChristiansCourage.