When she was just 8, Regan Hulsing of West Des Moines was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma. Thanks to research and a caring family, she can have a normal life.
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer
The job of a young girl should be to play with her dolls, practice making cookies or dreaming of the day when she'll grow into womanhood.
Regan Hulsing's dreams came to an abrupt halt when at age 8 she was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
Regan's mother, Lisa (Wycoff) Hulsing, a 1984 Estherville High School graduate, has become her daughter's biggest cheerleader and a spokesperson for Regan and other young children who are fighting for further research into all forms of childhood cancer. Lisa's efforts are paying off. To date, the Greater Des Moines Area MileStones Walk to Conquer Kids' Cancer has raised $33,000. The walk will be held Feb. 28 at Valley West Mall in West Des Moines.
Barb Carter of Estherville is Regan's aunt and her mother Lisa's sister.
Lisa took Regan to Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines when her daughter had a severe headache. From there Regan went to the University of Iowa Children's Hospital. Within two weeks from the time Lisa first took her to the hospital, Regan began radiation therapy.
While Ewing's is usually detected in a child's leg, for Regan it was found in her sinus area. Fortunately, Ewing's will respond to radiation. Regan underwent a regimen of radiation treatments and two sinus surgeries last fall.
After going through treatments until October 2007, Regan is now cancer-free.
"She's thriving in school," Lisa said, crediting Regan's second-grade teacher for going far above and beyond by tutoring her.
Lisa credits Regan's recovery to the protocols developed by the Children's Oncology Group, 200 hospitals of which Blank Children's Hospital and the University of Iowa Children's Hospital are members.
"They can do research for the greater good," Lisa said.
Regan's prognosis is good, with 70-80 percent of children with Ewing's surviving.
"The kids who don't relapse will have a chance," Lisa said. "...Once it relapses, that's it."
"We've made tremendous strides in treating cancer over the last 30 years," Lisa said gratefully. However, she sees problems with the "late effects" of cancer - for example, people who had childhood cancer often can't get health insurance as an adult.
Hulsing said the walk will help fund CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation. Of the money raised, 95 percent goes to research.
With 400 walkers already signed up, the MileStones Walk appears well on its way toward meeting its $40,000 goal.
Lisa thinks of 100 years ago when childhood cancer was a death sentence. Now, most children who have cancer will survive.
"It was a terrible thing and look at what they did in 50 years," Lisa said.