(WXYZ) — May was an important month for the ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation; it provided more money for research than ever before.
$3.5 million in grants were awarded to various researchers from institutions around the world, including:
Marta Alonso, Universidad de Navarra (Spain)Pratiti Bandopadhayay, Dana-Farber Cancer InstituteTim Phoenix, University of CincinnatiSriram Venneti, Michigan HospitalVivekanand Yadav, Michigan Medicine
DIPG, which stands for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, is a tumor in the lower part of the brain. These tumors grow quickly and are useless. They are responsible for about 10 percent of all childhood brain tumors, but account for 50 percent of childhood brain cancer deaths.
It’s a matter close to the hearts of Jason and Tammi Carr, who lost their son Chad to DIPG in 2015.
“One day he was a healthy boy. We thought he had a concussion from a fall and before you know it you were told he probably has nine months to live,” said Tammi, co-founder of ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation. , Action News told.
TONIGHT on @wxyzdetroit: A big milestone for @chadtough in May, when it awarded $3.5 million in grants to help fight childhood brain cancer such as DIPG.
This is their largest grant spread to date. I spoke with foundation co-founder Tammi Carr about the impact this will have. pic.twitter.com/hyRepXy62B
— Jenn Schanz (@JennShanzWXYZ) June 6, 2021
That was in September 2014. 14 months and 30 laps later, 5-year-old Chad died.
He spent his fourth birthday in the Coach Carr unit of Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, named after his grandfather, former University of Michigan football coach, Lloyd Carr.
“This is the only diagnosis in pediatric oncology that makes your heart sink when you see the imaging,” says Dr. Stephanie Toll, a pediatric neuro-oncologist at DMC’s Children’s Hospital in Michigan.
That’s because of where the tumor is, says Dr. toll. It’s in the pons of the brain.
“The punch is an integral part of your respiratory center, so you can’t remove it surgically,” Dr. Toll to Action News.
It’s still unclear what causes DIPG, the same tumor that Neil Armstrong’s daughter Karen took in 1962.
Prior to Chad’s diagnosis, “I had never heard of DIPG,” Tammi said. “And that’s a problem. Because brain tumors in children are the leading cause of death from cancer in children.”
That’s why she’s made it her mission to find answers so other families can find hope. The ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation is the result of the merger with the efforts of two families; the Carrs and the Mosiers, who also lost their son to the disease.
In early 2021, The ChadTough Foundation and Michael Mosier Defeat DIPG Foundation united to become the ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation.
“I think it’s small steps,” Tammi said.
“I always tell people this is a marathon, not a sprint. And we’re going to fund the best research wherever it is. From the University of Michigan to Dana Farber, from St. Jude to Colorado to Spain.”
Researchers believe that healing is possible in this lifetime, something Chad has played a role in, Tammi knows.
“I think he’s very proud of us. I think he’s smiling down on us from above,” she said.