Colorado family hopes experimental treatment will help young daughter's brain cancer

September 13, 2018 05:30 PM

(KUSA) When 4-year-old Piper Waneka was diagnosed with cancer last June, her parents were shocked as the doctors told them her prognosis.

"There is no established treatment protocol for DIPG," Nelson Waneka, her father, explains. "Other than palliative radiation, which is not a cure. It just extends the timeline."

That's how Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG works. It's one of the most aggressive pediatric brain tumors, and there is no chance of survival. Only 300 children in the United States have this diagnosis, which is a small percentage of the roughly 15,000 kids battling all kinds of pediatric cancers.

"I can't emphasize it enough," Piper's mom Carrina says. "Never, ever in our wildest imagination did we see it going where it went."

They were even more surprised as the reality sank in that there were hardly any options for their daughter. That is a major obstacle children with rare cancers face every day.

"It's definitely one of the last frontiers trying to cure brain tumors," Dr. Jean Mulcahy-Levy, with Children's Hospital Colorado says. "Really trying to investigate the cause of these tumors to develop new therapies is essential to prolonging life and hope for a cure."

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MORE INFORMATION: American Cancer Society

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