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Despite The Battle, Cancer Survivor Gage Tanner Fights On

It’s hard to explain the feeling of having a child with cancer but if you do, do not give up. Be prepared for the ups and the downs and don’t ever be afraid to take risks. Prayer really does work.”
Despite his battle, eleven year-old Gage Tanner has continued defy the odds during a four and a half year battle with Ganglioglioma, a type of pediatric cancer that occurs in the temporal lobe. Gage, the son of Michael and Candie Tanner of Pearson, may have a long road ahead, but according to his mother, Gage’s smile and passion for life has never disappeared.
Gage was officially diagnosed with the tumor on April 13, 2012, but the illness and symptoms began long before that. 
“The sickness was an on going thing for Gage. He always had allergies, was constantly coughing, and choking. We took him to so many doctors and we thought we had figured out the problem two years before he was diagnosed, but we were wrong,” said Candie.
Gage and his family were sent to an ear, nose, and throat doctor after numerous doctors’ visits and were told that Gage suffered from a paralyzed vocal cord. Unfortunately, the symptoms remained.
One afternoon while Gage was playing in a tee ball game, Candie noticed that when Gage went to hit the ball, he only hit it with his right side and when he began running, he would drag his left leg.
Gage was sent to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida, where he and his family met with a neurologist who immediately knew something was wrong. 
“He took one look at Gage and told me that he knew something was neurologically wrong. He could tell right off the bat that something was not right,” Candie stated.
Unfortunately, the neurologist was right and an MRI revealed a mass on Gage’s brain stem. It was determined that Gage was born with the cancer and it was in stage one.
Candie stated, “It sounds strange, but I was a relieved when I found out it was in stage one and not stage four. When you hear stage four cancer, your mind goes to terrible places. The tumor was inoperable, but we were able to make a plan.”
Gage then went through proton radiation, which targeted a specific area in Gage’s brain, but unfortunately, it was not successful.
At that point, the family met with a neurosurgeon who offered two choices – take Gage home or have him undergo a surgery that could possible remove 75% of the tumor.
The family made the decision for Gage to have the surgery, which was a success. But Gage needed an experimental type of the drug, one that required him having what is known as the BRAF gene, a gene only possessed by about 10% of the population.
Thankfully, Gene had the gene and began the treatments. “By the grace of God, he had it. That was the longest three days of my life while waiting for the biopsy to show me that he had a fighting chance,” Candie stated.
While undergoing chemo, Gage had to deal with several obstacles including severe rashes, losing his hair, and not being able to go in the sun. Candie stated that the family even keeps diaries documenting every little thing that the chemo affects.
Gage is about to start a second round of chemotherapy called Trametinib during an approved trial. Candie explained, “According to the previous trials done, the Zelboraf (the chemo he is on right now) is actually a drug that treats adult melanoma, but studies have shown that it had good results for metastatic melanoma carrying the BRAF V600E mutation in a phase III clinical trial. So why not try it on a brain tumor with the same mutation? Both drugs are types of biological therapy drugs called a cancer growth blocker.
“It stops cells from producing a protein called BRAF, which makes some cancer cells grow and divide. About half of all melanoma skin cancers make too much BRAF due to a change in a gene. The gene is called the BRAF gene. The chemo will help tumor from growing but it will not kill it. But when he starts to build a resistance to these drugs, what will happen? The tumor will grow until we find a cure and that is what the doctors are researching right now.” 
Gage and his family are currently making several trips to see various doctors every few months and are still praying for a cure. “He is in school and he is doing well. Gage is the sweetest boy and always has a smile on his face. He is truly unbelievable,” stated Candie.
Candie also wants to give a special thanks to the Childhood Cancer Awareness Group of Coffee County for all of their continued support. “I honestly don’t know what I would do without them. They are all so loving.
It’s hard to explain the feeling of having a child with cancer but if you do, do not give up. Be prepared for the ups and the downs and don’t ever be afraid to take risks. Prayer really does work.”
See page 1-B in the Wednesday, September 21, 2016, edition of The Douglas Enterprise.

The Douglas Enterprise

P.O. Box 750
Douglas, Georgia 31534

Phone: (912) 384-2323
Fax: (912) 383-0218