WASHINGTON - It was a huge turnout at Eastern Market Tuesday night to help a young boy battling a rare form of brain cancer.
Nine-year-old Clay Derderian has been battling the slow-growing tumor for the past five years. But he and his family are fighting back one day at a time.
At first glance, the event on this night may have looked like a Halloween happy hour, but it was so much more. People gathered here were helping raise money for lifesaving treatments.
Derderian is fully aware what he is up against.
“It's a brain cancer that is hard for the doctors to get to because it's in the middle of the brain,” he said.
It cost him his eyesight three years ago. The rare childhood tumor is called a juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma.
“He has been on numerous chemotherapies, all of which failed,” said Clay’s father, James. “The disease continued to progress. He's had three brain surgeries, and most recently, a spinal cord surgery to try to keep the tumors at bay.”
Now, the Derderians are hoping to raise money to fund more research. Meanwhile, Clay is keeping his focus on his lifelong dreams.
“Someday I will go hang gliding,” he told us. “Someday I will write a cookbook. Someday I will get my eyesight back. Someday I will go to college. Someday I will be a black belt. Someday I will not have cancer.”
There is hope as Clay is now part of an experimental program that has slowed the disease.
His cancer affects about 20,000 children in the United States with 1,000 new cases each year.