Family hoping young boy's death can help search for cure for a rare cancer

Family hoping boy's death helps cancer research
Posted at 4:24 AM, Oct 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-02 09:58:40-04

A little boy with the moves, the energy and a smile to grab a hold of you - Little Hollis was so young to fight such a battle. He was diagnosed with a rare cancer known as DIPG. About 350 children in the United States are diagnosed with it every year. There's just a handful of cases in Arizona.

"Three have been diagnosed this year that we know of and two are gone," said Shawnee Doherty.

Shawnee and Shane Doherty are Hollis's parents, still grieving after losing him in January. He was just seven years old. Researchers at TGen in Phoenix are now studying tissue from Hollis to not only understand the disease but come up with a cure and biomarkers to see if current treatment is working.

"What’s really important is to know are we still controlling the tumor or has it escaped our current therapy?" said Doctor Michael Berens. "Maybe it never responded."

Dr. Berens is the deputy director at TGen. He says not only is DIPG rare but so is the ability to put a familiar face with the disease.

"It helps us to realize this is not a biological specimen,” Dr. Berens said.

"We are praying for and hoping for a cure here soon because we just don't want parents to go through what we've gone through," said Shane.