METHUEN — After her daughter Caroline was diagnosed with pediatric brain cancer, Sarah Hamilton of Methuen was hoping she could raise $10,000 to help find a cure.
Seven years and $555,740 later, the Hamilton family and Caroline’s team — “Team Chickaroo” — are working harder than ever to raise money for pediatric brain cancer research.
“We knew that if we wanted something happen, it was a situation where we were going to have to change things ourselves,” Sarah Hamilton said.
The Hamiltons and Team Chickaroo are participating in the Jimmy Fund walk on Sunday, Sept. 8. They are hoping the Merrimack Valley will rally with them with both donations and walkers.
Caroline, 12, is entering the 7th grade at St. Michael School in North Andover.
She was diagnosed seven years ago with pediatric low-grade astrocytomas, the most common and presently incurable type of pediatric brain cancer.
Today, despite treatments, she still has “a massive tumor the size of a plum” in her brain along with 30 to 40 smaller lesions.
In those lesions, the most miniscule amount of growth “can have consequences for her,” her mother explained. If a cyst forms or a blood vessel breaks in or around those lesions, “the damage can be permanent.”
“While she’s doing good and she looks good, she’s got a ticking time bomb in her head,” Sarah said.
In an unscripted, spontaneous video posted on social media this week, Caroline asks for donations for the walk.
“It goes to a worthy cause ... and will find better treatments for kids with brain tumors,” Caroline said. Targeted research and clinical trials will help kids “live a better life,” she added.
Caroline is an “amazing child” who knows much too much about cancer and research and funding for her young age. But, her mother said, “I want to make things better for her and there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for her.”
“Right now, that means doing everything within my power to promote the discovery of effective treatments for her,” Sarah said.
The biggest obstacle to pediatric cancer research, Sarah Hamilton noted, is a lack of funding. While any and all donations are precious, she dreams of partnering with a large corporation or lottery winner to fuel the cancer research.
“I’d love to get to a million dollars,” she said.
All funds raised by Team Chickaroo support PLGA research at Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
“In order for research to happen, it falls upon our friends and family to fund it ... Our goal is to keep funding research as long as we have to,” she said.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.
How to help Support Caroline and ongoing cancer research by donating at jimmyfundwalk.org/2013/teamchickaroo.