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'Soldier Boy' Kenneth Stewart continues waiting game
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An entire community continues to wait to see if an experimental drug will work for an 11-year-old boy with childhood cancer.

Kenneth Stewart, known as Soldier Boy to many in Dawson County, initially was diagnosed with medulloblastomas tumors in the area of the brain nearly four years ago, according to his mother, Ana. After a brief respite in which his scans came back clear, the cancer was detected in scans late last year. One last MRI scan revealed that one tumor has not only remained but has continued to grow.

That puts Kenny in a totally different category now, Ana said. He was given a couple of choices. One was to just switch up the meds that hes already been taking, in hopes that would work to shrink some of the tumor growth. Or, try a medicine that has only been tried by 14 people in the world.

This trial medicine so new that it doesnt even have a name was proven effective in two of the 13 people who have tried it. Kenneth is the 14th personand is receiving the highest dosage to date. He has been taking the drug for about three weeks.

According to Ana, an MRI was taken on the day Kenneth started the drug, revealing that the tumor had continued to grow and detecting several other seed-sized tumors. While going through this trial period, the Stewarts go to the hospital every week for blood work and cardiac tests. Ana explained that doctors need to monitor side-effects of the drug on his internal organs, but since the drug is non-chemo based, Kenneths hair has begun to grow back.

Ana expects to know around May 18 if the drug has worked. May 18 just so happens to be the date of Relay for Life in Dawson County. A special recognition is being planned for Kenneth during the event, according to Relay for Life officials.

In the meantime, Kenneth is a typical upbeat 11-year-old boy, with plans to dye his growing hair red, white and blue for the Fourth of July holiday.

He loves baseball, said Kim Bennett, assistant principal at Robinson Elementary School. Bennett helped organize a trip on April 24 to the University of Georgia baseball game against Georgia Tech, where Kenneth was the bat boy. Continuing the baseball theme, Kenneth traveled to Atlanta to watch the May 1 Atlanta Braves game against the Philadelphia Phillies, courtesy of the Dawson County Sheriffs Office.

Hes just a kid, Bennett said. It has not deterred his spirit ... and his mom Ana is wonderful.

He also recently led a group of runners in a Chevrolet Camaro at an April 21 5K, held at Rock Creek Park in support of him.

Greg Behnke, of John Megel Chevrolet, drove the car at the 5K and has escorted Kenneth at past events. I have been working with Kenny, going to fundraising events to help him and his family with some of the expenses during his treatments, Behnke explained. He is one of the best kids. He is so brave, which is the best way that I can put it, and hes taking his situation in stride. Hes got the love of the community all around him.

It was fun, Kenneth said about getting to ride in the Camaro at the 5K event. We led them for two laps around. Kenneth also had requested to do a donut in the car but that did not happen. Ana said that Kenneths wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation is in the process of being granted.

He wanted to be able to go on a Disney cruise, she said. If that doesnt happen, his second wish is to meet Michael Oher, the person who inspired the movie The Blind Side.

I just want to again thank the community for all of their prayers and support that they give to our family, Ana said. It definitely makes each day a little easier to wake up knowing that we have so many people that are praying for Kenneth. Id like to thank all of the staff at Robinson Elementary for pretty much being our family through this. They bend over backwards for us.

Just continue to pray.

For more information, to donate or to be added to Kenneths Care page, contact the News & Advertiser at 706-265-2345.

MORE INFORMATION

What are medulloblastomas? These tumors are located in the part of the brain called the cerebellum, which controls balance and other

complex motor functions. It is the most common malignant tumor of the central nervous system in children, accounting for 15 to 20 percent of all pediatric brain tumors. There are approximately 500 cases of medulloblastoma diagnosed in the United States every year.

How to help? For more information, to donate or to be added to Kenneths Care page, contact the News & Advertiser at 706-265-2345

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