Every day in the United States, nearly 13 youngsters are diagnosed with one of the deadliest forms of childhood cancer. These children are PBTF Stars, and their inspiring stories are our Starlights.
You can locate a Starlight story by clicking on one of the links below. Starlight stories are arranged by the Star's first name.
May 16, 2015
Tanner Falato plans to become a Philadelphia Flyers hockey player or a firefighter, says his mom, Beth.
The New Jersey boy has been on ice skates since he was 2. When his balance became wobbly on and off the ice, Beth knew something was wrong with her son.
After multiple appointments with a pediatrician, hearing specialists and a neurologist, Tanner was diagnosed with a juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma in December 2013.
Since then he has endured brain surgery, temporary hearing loss and balance issues. A small portion of his tumor remains and he has routine MRIs to monitor growth.
Despite those challenges, Tanner is back on the ice. He also loves playing street hockey and baseball.
Last year, Tanner and his family participated in our Starry Night 8.5K walk/run. Although he wasn’t able to complete the walk, his goal is to finish it this year.
“Tanner is a fighter and an inspiration to his family,” Beth says. “[We have to] be able to find a cure so kids with brain tumors don’t have to go through this.”
To help children like Tanner, make a donation today:
May 26, 2014
Tara Nori plans to become an actress when she grows up, says her mom, Kelly.
“I’m 9 1/2. If I don’t get my career going soon, I’m not going to be an actress,” Tara recently told her mom. Kelly laughs as she recalls her daughter’s comment. “She’s a jokester,” she says.
But Kelly says it was the same determination that helped get Tara through a brain tumor diagnosis at age 2.
Tara has since endured multiple surgeries and chemotherapy treatments and has learned to walk and talk again. Today, her tumor remains stable.
“Her future is still uncertain, but each time Tara faced a setback, strength and courage were her guide. Despite her mild physical deficits and difficulties learning, Tara is determined to have a happy life,” Kelly says, adding, “Research is so underfunded. We don’t need pity, we need money.”
May 25, 2015
Angei McCann describes her son Zachary as a sweet, mischievous, little prankster.
Zachary loved Pokémon, playing with his friends and climbing. But his favorite thing to do was spend time with his Nana and Papa Goza. His grandparents played games with him and took him swimming.
“He was a beautiful little boy,” Angei says of her son.
Life turned upside down for the Texas family when healthy Zachary was diagnosed with a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma in August 1999.
Angei recalls, “I'll never forget it, we were standing in the hallway and [the doctor had] clearly been called to the hospital from a social event, so he was all dressed up in his summer suit; but he wouldn't look me in the eye. And he said, ‘I don't know if he'll make it.’”
Zachary succumbed to his illness on Feb. 3, 2000. He was 7 years, 5 months and 22 days old, Angei says, counting every day she had with her son.
Angei said it’s critical to raise awareness about childhood brain tumors. “Unfortunately, it can get anyone; it doesn't appear to be picky. What most people don't understand is these children, our children, were perfectly normal, healthy kids, running around the neighborhood, playing with their friends, going to school, no different from anyone else's. Until one day, for no particular reason, their doctor tells you they have brain cancer.”
Make a donation in Zachary’s memory today to help eliminate the challenges of childhood brain tumors:
May 25, 2014
Zachary Prichard plans to pursue a career with computer animation, says his mom, Tracie.
“He loves video games,” she says of her 14-year-old. “And they help his hand-eye coordination.”
That’s important for Zachary, who has battled a juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma since he was 5.
Before his diagnosis, Tracie says she felt something was not quite right. Zachary experienced right-side weakness, even falling in the middle of playing baseball games.
Doctors were able to remove 90 percent of the tumor, but Zachary still encounters weakness, headaches and occasional dizziness.
“He is such a brave boy and never complains,” Tracie says. “He always has a smile on his face.”
Today, Tracie says, “He’s doing great.” Zachary, who is homeschooled, still keeps up with sports, taking on golf, karate and bowling.
His mom’s advice to other families: “If you feel like something is wrong, keep pushing.”