The per­sis­tence of joy Teen keeps smil­ing de­spite on­go­ing bat­tle with cancer

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - NEWS - BY MEG WINGERTER Staff Writer mwingerter@ok­la­

Cade We­gener is on his sec­ond bout with cancer, but you wouldn’t guess it watch­ing him while he waited for what might be his last ra­di­a­tion treat­ment.

While the type of treat­ment Cade re­ceived at Pro­Cure Pro­ton Ther­apy Cen­ter in Ok­la­homa City isn’t painful, it does re­quire ly­ing still while in­vis­i­ble atomic par­ti­cles en­ter the body and try to kill the cancer. So not ev­ery teenager would break into a wide smile at the sight of the tech­ni­cian com­ing to take him back for a treat­ment.

“Hey Steve! It’s time!” he shouted over a crowd of rel­a­tives gath­ered to cel­e­brate the end of this round of ra­di­a­tion.

Cade, 15, was di­ag­nosed with un­dif­fer­en­ti­ated pleo­mor­phic sar­coma in Oc­to­ber 2015. The cancer was in his psoas mus­cle, which con­nects the hip and spine, his fa­ther Chris We­gener said. The first sign some­thing was wrong was when Cade started com­plain­ing of hip pain. His son, who has Down syn­drome and a blad­der con­di­tion, had built up a high tol­er­ance for pain from pre­vi­ous med­i­cal prob­lems, he said.

Doc­tors ini­tially thought Cade only had an in­fec­tion, but an MRI found a tu­mor near his spine, We­gener said. He un­der­went surgery to re­move the tu­mor, fol­lowed by chemo­ther­apy and ra­di­a­tion. His fam­ily hoped the cancer was gone for good, but a rou­tine scan in May 2017 found another tu­mor nearby, and Cade had to start another round of ra­di­a­tion.

Cade hasn’t ex­pe­ri­enced many side ef­fects, and he’s held up well on the long drives from the Ber­ry­hill com­mu­nity to Ok­la­homa City for treat­ment five days a week, We­gener said. He’s made a game out of try­ing to get truck­ers to blow their horns, and he made friends with the staff even dur­ing the more-drain­ing chemo­ther­apy treat­ments, he said.

“He finds joy in the small­est things,” he said. “If a kid can joke with the nurses while get­ting chemo, that’s a spe­cial kid.”

To hear Cade tell it, there’s no se­cret to his pos­i­tive out­look. It’s just the way he is, and his friends and fam­ily help.

“I love to be happy,” he said. “My friends make me happy.”

At least 20 peo­ple, many of them wear­ing match­ing blue T-shirts made to sup­port Cade dur­ing his first round of cancer treat­ment, gath­ered for his last treat­ment ses­sion of this round. They won’ t know for sev­eral months whether the ra­di­a­tion de­stroyed the tu­mor, or if Cade will need chemo­ther­apy again, We­gener said. But he’s con­fi­dent the fam­ily’s re­li­gious faith, the com­mu­nity’s sup­port and Cade’s re­silience will get them through if the bat­tle isn’t over.

“He really is the tough­est kid I know,” he said.


Cade We­gener hugs his mother, April, on Jan. 3 af­ter Cade fin­ished his last round of ra­di­a­tion treat­ment at Pro­Cure Pro­ton Ther­apy Cen­ter in Ok­la­homa City.

ABOVE: Cade We­gener rings the bell to sig­nify his last day of chemo­ther­apy treat­ment at Pro­Cure Pro­ton Ther­apy Cen­ter, as his par­ents, April and Chris, look on in Ok­la­homa City.

LEFT: Cade hugs his fa­ther, Chris, af­ter Cade fin­ished his last round of ra­di­a­tion treat­ment.

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