Area toddler in fight for life against brain cancer
Damian and Jeanna Lucia are two proud parents who have seen their son grow into an adorable 2 and a half year-old, who loves dinosaurs, tractors and horses.
After having success with in vitro fertilization, Jeanna and Damian learned they were going to become parents. The pregnancy was healthy.
Duke was born on June 23, 2019, and weighed a healthy 7 pounds and 12 ounces. He was 20 inches long.
According to Damian, Duke’s dad, “Duke hit all of his milestones perfectly throughout his first year.”
Duke was developing along as scheduled, until October 2021 came around. Damian and Jeanna noticed some behavioral changes in Duke. They originally thought it was the usual “terrible twos” creeping in.
Along with continuing mood swings, within months, Duke also stopped walking, stopped eating as much, and he wasn’t taking in much fluids, they decided to take Duke in to see the local doctor. Several doctors told Damian and Jeanna that he was fine, there was nothing to worry about. That he would “bounce back” and be good as new in no time.
Damian and Jeanna, had a feeling that something was seriously wrong. They decided to take him to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., a clinic that specializes in treating cancer patients.
On February 21 of this year, Damian and Jeanna got the worst news they could hear from any doctor about their child. Duke had stage 4 Medulloblastoma, which is a brain cancer that is more common in children. They also learned he had many tumors on his spine.
Duke had 11 tumors on his brain, and 24 tumors on his spine. Doctors began an aggressive treatment using proton beam radiation.
Proton beam radiation is a type of radiation therapy, a treatment that uses high-powered energy to treat cancer and some noncancerous tumors. Proton therapy is a newer type of radiation therapy that uses energy from positively charged particles (protons) to shrink the tumors. Proton therapy may cause fewer side effects than traditional radiation.
Since starting this therapy, the tumors on Duke’s brain have shrunk greatly.
Towards the end of the week, Duke will begin to receive chemotherapy 3 days a week for 5-6 months to continue to kill the fast-growing cancer cells throughout his body.
Chemotherapy is most often used to treat cancer, since cancer cells grow and multiply much more quickly than most cells in the body. Many different chemotherapy drugs are available and can be used alone or in combination to treat a wide variety of cancers.
Along with chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatments. Duke will have to undergo surgery as well. There is a chance that Duke may not walk again.
Since being diagnosed, Damian and Jeanna have had to stop working and going to school to be with Duke. It is unknown when Duke will return home.
To help ease the financial strain on Damian and Jeanna, Damian’s father and the rest of the family have organized a benefit in Duke’s honor.
The benefit is on March 19 from 1-9 p.m. at the Corning Town Hall, N1563 Hwy 64, Merrill.
If you would like to donate to the raffles contact Derrick Sukow at 715-218-4152 or Renea Sukow at 715-218-0327.
Monetary donations can be sent to Renea Sukow 2005 Webster St., Merrill, WI 54452 or at WESTconsin Credit Union for Duke’s Benefit.