Imagine yourself trying to maintain a straight-A average in school, practice competitive tap, jazz, and modern dance for twenty hours a week, juggle time with friends and family at the same time your body is being compromised by an undetected tumor. Thirteen-year-old Clare Blase did all of that and more for several months as she was battling the side effects of Cushing’s Syndromeand Adrenocortical Carcinoma—cancer of the adrenal glands.
“Clare hadn’t been feeling well throughout the fall of 2010, and had gained some weight in her face and upper body in spite of a rigorous practice schedule,” says her mother, Cindy Blase. “Her pediatrician suspected Cushing’s Syndrome. Initial tests confirmed this, and her results were ‘way off the charts’. That’s when we were referred to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for further testing. After a whirlwind of scans and tests we were stunned to find out that she had what was most likely a malignant tumor on her adrenal gland. After seeing eight doctors in one day, she was scheduled for surgery to remove tumor.”
Thanks to the expertise of Dr. Patrick Dillon, Clare’s massive, pound-cake-sized tumor was removed intact. While the surgery was a success, Clare’s battle was just beginning. “She started a very aggressive course of chemotherapy just days after undergoing major surgery,” says Cindy. “This type of cancer is uncommon in adolescents so the doctors had to do a lot of research to find the best strategy for treatment. Fortunately, Clare’s care at St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s has been guided by two renowned experts in the field of pediatric oncology and hematology—Dr. Frederick S. Huang and Dr. Robert Hayashi. We are in the exact place we need to be and are so blessed to have them.”
After months of challenging side-effects and setbacks, Clare’s treatment is expected to be finished in September of 2011. “She has been hospitalized repeatedly for dehydration, infections and other issues,” says Cindy. But throughout it all, Clare has tried to keep on dancing. With the love and support of her dance community at Charmette Academy of Dance and Acrobatics, Clare even traveled to Dallas, Texas in July for a competition.”
Clare’s athleticism, mental toughness and drive for perfection are fitting qualities for her role as one of the honored “Ride for A Child” pediatric cancer patients for Pedal the Cause, a bicycle race in early October to raise money for cancer research in St. Louis. All the proceeds to go St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Siteman Cancer Center.
“We are so honored to be a part of Pedal the Cause and thrilled to support St. Louis Children’s Hospital,” says Cindy. “Any parent who has to watch their child suffer through the horrors of chemotherapy will tell you we have to find a cure for this living nightmare called cancer. Treatment is not the answer. We need to find a cure for this disease.”