ATLANTA (Gray News) - A Georgia family, whose three sons all have a rare cancer, is sharing their story in hopes more funding will be made available for childhood cancer research.
In the past five years, Tristen, Caison and Carter Rush have all been diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the eye that typically affects children younger than 3. The brothers are 5, 3 and 6 months old, respectively.
“They are warriors. I go with them to the hospital many times, and they get IVs. They get drops in their eyes, and they are just warriors,” said Jeanne Rush, the boys’ grandmother, in an interview with WTHR.
Baby Carter is the latest to undergo treatment after two tumors were discovered in his eyes on Jan. 6, according to the family’s GoFundMe. He will need 6 months of chemotherapy and continued laser treatments to ward off the tumors.
Angie Rush, the boys’ mother, also had retinoblastoma when she was an infant, which led to her losing her left eye at 6 weeks old, WXIA reports. The disease can be hereditary, and she knew when she got pregnant, she had a chance to pass it on to her children.
"I feel a lot of guilt, knowing that this is something I could pass down to them, but I also know that I've been blessed," Angie Rush told WXIA. "They're smart, and they're kind. They're definitely a joy to have."
In order to pay for their sons’ medical bills, Angie and her husband, Aaron Rush, sold their home and moved in with family to save money. Their GoFundMe, set up on Jan. 14, has raised more than $26,000.
Now, the parents hope their story can encourage more funding be set aside for childhood cancer research. According to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, only 4 percent of annual funds spent on cancer research and treatments are directed towards childhood cancer.
More than 95 percent of patients with retinoblastoma can be cured, according to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Each year, about 250 to 300 children in the United States are found to have the disease.