It was a terrifying evening in the Daugherty home in October 2017. Their 6-year-old son Christian began screaming in pain, then went limp. He was rushed by ambulance to a local emergency room in Muncie, Ind., then quickly sent to the Riley Hospital for Children Emergency Department, where doctors discovered the source of his problems: a brain tumor. Christian underwent a total of three brain surgeries with Riley Pediatric Neurosurgeons Andrew Jea, M.D., and Jeffrey Raskin, M.D. One of the surgeries involved serious brain swelling complications, but Christian fought hard and recovered.
The donor-funded Riley Precision Genomics team ran tests on Christian’s extremely rare tumor, and discovered a genetic fusion was creating a protein overproduction that was feeding the tumor. These genetic findings allowed the Riley team to identify a targeted chemo pill, Trametinib, with virtually no side effects. The treatment worked well to contain Christian’s tumor for many months. When the tumor began growing again over the summer of 2018, Riley Pediatric Neuro-Oncologist Alex Lion, M.D., worked with the family and the Precision Genomics team to adjust Christian’s treatment plan, which included another brain surgery and proton therapy.
Through each step, the Daugherty family has shown deep gratitude for the many Riley caregivers who are providing Christian with exceptional, research-based cancer care, and the donors whose gifts support Riley. “I can’t say enough about how much those gifts help,” says Christian’s father, Brad Daugherty. “It’s been an amazing experience with Riley. It’s a beautiful hospital. I wouldn’t have gone anywhere else. We have our child back now. Christian has a heart of gold and wants to help Riley.”