<a href="http://www.thinkcure.org/" target="_blank">Learn More About ThinkCure!</a>By Lisa Sigell

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The Dodgers have been dealing with some changes lately, but one thing that is a constant for the team is their dedication to fund cancer research through their official charity ThinkCure!.

Since ThinkCure started, more than $1 million has been raised for research at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and City of Hope in Duarte.

Friday marks the kick-off of ThinkCure!’s big fundraising weekend this year. Leading up to that day, we will be telling the stories of the children and adults battling cancer and what ThinkCure! has meant to them. This is Nate’s story.

Nate has a room full of toys and loves playing with his brothers. He is a child with his whole life ahead of him. But three different times in just 18 months his parents were told that he was going to die.

“The first time we were told, ‘three months to live’… The next time we were told, ‘six months to live’… Three weeks to live, at one point; no one knows until it’s over,” Nate’s father said.

This story begins in Fate, Texas. Nate Oxford was nearly 3-years old when he was diagnosed with terminal brain and spine cancer. Doctors at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas aggressively treated him with heavy doses of chemotherapy.

“I mean it’s a nightmare. It was scary. It truly was scary,” Nate’s mother said.

Within five months the family had the news they prayed for — the cancer was gone. But less than a month later, it was back. This time doctors added radiation.

“As long as Nate has the fight in him, we do to. You just keep going,” she said.

Once again, he was in the clear.

“Even though it would come back, he would bounce back and show us signs that this kid wants to make it,” his father said.

Then came a third setback — the cancer that had all but disappeared was worse than ever. It has spread into his hip and pelvis. Nate, then just 4-years-old, was given three weeks to live.

His parents said the doctors at the hospital in Dallas did everything they could. But they just could not give up. They did their research, contacted five more children’s hospitals across the country, but each time they were told there was nothing else anyone could do.

“Inside we would tell ourselves, until it’s over, it’s not over.”

“We knew if we could find one person who would at least give him a chance, actually look at him, then we could work with that,” Nate’s father said.

That person was Dr. Jonathan Finlay at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He told the family there was a small chance an experimental treatment would work. They decided the risk was worth it and flew from Dallas to L.A.

Dr. Finlay would use a radical treatment that would bring Nate to the brink of death with massive doses of chemotherapy. If that worked, he would get a bone marrow transplant, common for those with leukemia, but not for those with brain cancer.

Still, there was another step; Nate would need a marrow donor, because his own would be destroyed by the high doses of chemo.

It turned out that his older brother, 9-year-old Jake, was a perfect match. Jake knew it was his brother’s only hope.

“I was worried that it might not work on Nate and there would be nothing else to do for it,” Jake said.

But it did work. First the chemo reduced the cancer, then the healthy marrow took over, continuing to kill off any remaining cancer cells that chemotherapy had missed.

This “big-bang treatment” will now be tried in more brain cancer patients.

“I guess my track record is if the glass is 95 percent empty, I tend to focus on the 5 percent that may be full. It’s important to remember a child is not a statistic,” Dr. Finlay said.

Nate Oxford is cancer free right now, the longest period he has gone without treatment. He is learning to walk and talk again. All because of two parents from Fate, Texas, who did not let Fate determine their son’s destiny.

As for ThinkCure, the big fundraising weekend starts Friday, but the online auction has already started. Bid on everything from a base-running lesson with the Dodgers’ first-base coach to a visit with Vin Sculley in the broadcast booth to memorabilia autographed by Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Madonna and Billy Joel.

For more information visit www.thinkcure.org. All the donated money goes directly to ThinkCure!.


Comments (3)
  1. ALEX says:


  2. Robert Ricci says:

    First, praise God for little Nate! He is truly a miracle. But Dr. Finnley’s statement that Nate is only like one of 4 in the world is incorrect.

    My daughter, Rachael Ann, has been battling brain cancer since 2007. She has gone through chemo three times at CHOC – Children’s Hospital Orange County – and the cancer had returned. Rachael Ann underwent the same treatment of high dose chemo to completely ablate (destroy) her bone marrow and leave her at deaths door. Prior to this the doctors took some of her stem cells and put them on ice. After the massive chemo they gave her stem cells back and waited. Her counts still have not recovered since she was released from the stem cell transfusion on August 25, 2010 and she has received two boosters of her own cells. She has no more left to boost with and remains compromised. She was strong enough to undergo radiation between December 2010 and February of 2011.

    Today Rachael Ann is cancer-free although she has a 1 in 5 chance of surviving the next 5 years. *I absolutely don’t want to take away from Nate and his success.* Rather, I want people to know that regardless of the long-term odds this is not a new procedure! Other parents need to know if it!

    Our little Rachael Ann has been a learning example for the staff of CHOC. She has almost left us several times and cancer is so, so scary. We lost our home in Big Bear; I lost my wife to divorce. Rachael Ann lives with me in Running Springs and we make the commute to CHOC weekly. But Rachael lives. Rachael lives! Just like blessed young Nate, Rachael lives!

    Please let your viewers know that the staff of CHOC has experience with this procedure. Dr. Steve Neudorf, Dr, Ivan Kirov (Special K), and Dr. Violet Shen have worked a miracle inspired by divine intervention. CHOC Cancer Center may be reached at 714-532-8636.

  3. ame says:

    God please keep blessing these doctors with your miracles to cure those babies. Please God keep blessing those beautiful babies and help them completely heal.

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