"With God, and your support, we have a miracle!"

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Andon Zehring, Leesburg, Ind., is cancer-free today

Our Riley Journey Begins

When I think of Riley Hospital, three words come to mind: caring; knowledgeable; and great.

Our Riley story began on October 24, 2006, when our son Andon was almost 8 months old. He was becoming very fussy and inconsolable. I had taken him to the doctor three times that month because I just felt like there was something wrong. The doctors assured me that everything was fine, until the last time I took him in.

Andon was showing left sided neglect and they knew something was wrong neurologically. We went over to our community hospital for a scan, which showed a golf ball-sized brain tumor. They immediately started an IV and medication to help with Andon’s pain. We were then sent to Riley Hospital via ambulance.

World-Class Care

We arrived on a Tuesday, and by Friday Andon was in surgery to remove his brain tumor. Riley neurosurgeon Dr. Jodi Smith performed the 18-hour brain surgery, and was able to get about 85% of the tumor out. Dr. Smith was absolutely amazing! We couldn’t have been placed in better hands.

We then met with Riley oncologist Dr. Kamnesh Pradhan. He set Andon up on a chemotherapy regimen that began the following week. He went through several rounds of chemotherapy, and most of it was experimental because Andon’s type of brain tumor was so rare in children. (Andon had a grade IV glioblastoma brain tumor which is the most aggressive type of brain tumor.) After three relapses, we decided it was time to do a stem cell transplant. We were able to harvest Andon's own stem cells because the cancer was contained and not spread throughout his body. Stem cell transplants are very difficult to go through, and we were grateful for our transplant coordinator, Kathleen Kelly, who was thorough and detailed.

We started his stem cell transplant at the beginning of March right after his first birthday. There was some disease still left after the stem cell transplant, so our doctors recommended proton beam radiation. This was a hard decision because of how young Andon was, but we decided to go ahead with it. Andon had radiation five days a week for six weeks. All of this was happening while we had just had our second child – a very tough time with a newborn.

Thank You for Our Miracle

Andon is now in third grade, and in his sixth cancer-free year. We go to Riley annually for a scan to make sure everything is still looking good. Andon is a people person and is very inquisitive. He loves anything and everything to do with farming, including John Deere tractors. He knows quite a bit about them!

To all the donors who support Riley Hospital’s great care and pediatric research, I would like to say THANK YOU. We know that research made it possible for Andon to receive treatments for his cancer. With God, and your support, we have a miracle!

Janel Zehring, Riley Parent

Janel Zehring and her husband of 11 years, Brian, have two children, Andon who is 8, and Presley is 6. The family lives in Leesburg, Ind.

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