Ups and downs have marked the last several months for two area families united by childhood cancer, but while there are still challenges, there are also some exciting times ahead.
August is a special month for the family of 5-year-old cancer survivor Bridget Crock of Marietta. Bridget will celebrate her sixth birthday Aug. 22 and start kindergarten at Harmar Elementary School the next day.
Meanwhile, Traci and David Nichols, of Waterford, who lost their 6-year-old daughter, Ava, to complications of a brain tumor March 13, are expecting another child. Traci is three-and-a-half months pregnant.
SHARON BOPP The Marietta Times
Traci Nichols of Waterford and Bridget, Desni and Anna Crock of Marietta gather Monday in Marietta as Traci and Desni make plans for BrAva’s second annual 5K Run/Walk & Family Fun Day at Marietta’s Indian Acres Park on Sept. 15.
"Ava prayed every night for three years to have a sister," said Traci. "We believe wholeheartedly that this baby was handpicked by her."
The Nichols do not yet know the baby's sex.
Bridget Crock remains in remission. She was diagnosed with a rare childhood chest tumor known as pleuropulmonary blastoma in October 2008 at the age of 2. One of Bridget's lungs was surgically removed in January 2009.
If you go
What: BrAva Second Annual 5K Run/Walk & Family Fun Day.
When: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Sept. 15 (Run/walk 10 a.m., Fun Day 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
Where: Indian Acres Park, Marietta.
Her mother, Desni Crock, carries the DICER1 gene. Her husband, Bob, does not.
Bridget and her sister, Anna, 3, continue to be routinely scanned to be sure that the DICER1 gene has not mutated and formed cancer cells in their bodies. This week, the girls will have their scans done at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus.
Mutations of DICER1 can cause pleuropulmonary blastoma, the type of lung cancer that Bridget was diagnosed with, kidney cancer, prepubescent ovarian cancer, brain cancer, bone cancer, thyroid cancer and other diseases, according to Crock.
"Anna is at the age where this can happen," she said.
To date, Anna has a cyst on her kidney but no signs of cancer.
Crock strives to make light of the family's cancer issues.
She has nicknamed herself and her daughters "The D Kids," a lighthearted, super-hero reference to the DICER1 gene.
"It's instead of the X-Men," Desni said. "We each have super powers."
In 2010, the Crock and Nichols families and their friends formed BrAva, in honor of their daughters Bridget and Ava. BrAva raises funds to "help local families dealing with the issues surrounding a child with cancer and to find a cure so fewer families will need help in the future," said Nancy Arthur, Bridget and Anna's grandmother.
"It's hard to need that kind of help, but taking help is even worse," Crock said.
In honor of September's Childhood Cancer Awareness month, BrAva will hold the second annual BrAva 5K Run/Walk & Family Fun Day at Indian Acres Park in Marietta Sept. 15.
Proceeds will go to CureSearch for Children's Cancer, a national nonprofit foundation with the mission to fund and support children's cancer research and provide information and resources to all those affected by childhood cancer.
The run/walk will start at 10 a.m. Race-day registration begins at 8 a.m. For early registration, contact Amanda Adams at 516-3371. The entry fee is $15 per person if registered by Sept. 8, or $20 per person the day of the event.
Prizes will be given for the first man and first woman to complete the 5K.
Family Fun Day will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will include concession items, pinatas, a bounce house and a country store raffle of donated items including wine baskets and Thirty-One products.
Donations of candy for the pinatas and new items for the country store raffle can be taken to Advantage Real Estate, 228 Pike St., Marietta during business hours.
Last year's BrAva 5K Run/Walk and Family Fun Day raised $10,000.
"Not bad for our first year," Desni Crock noted.
"If we can meet or exceed the amount from last year, it would mean BrAva can sponsor another family in the area directly affected by childhood cancer," said Traci Nichols.
According to Crock, sponsored families receive assistance with bills, as well as gift and gas cards to help with expenses traveling to and from treatment.
"Treatments typically last one year," she said. "If they need help after that, we would work hard to help them."