A Tillamook toddler is fighting a cancer so rare, there are fewer than 200 cases reported worldwide since the 1970s, according to doctors.
But if anyone can beat pancreatoblastoma, Kaitlin and Guy Thompson say it is their son, Carter.
Carter, who turns 2 on May 10, has thrived after overcoming other obstacles in his short life.
He was born with his bowels outside of his body but was out the hospital a relatively quick 16 days later.
A few weeks after that, the Thompsons learned the little boy had congenital blindness.
But Carter delighted in discovering the world through touch, taking joy in the feeling of wind against his face and water in his hands, the Thompsons said.
"We've learned to discover the world in a whole new way through Carter," said Kaitlin Thompson. "And we really don't want to lose that."
The Thompsons first noticed their toddler, normally happy and bouncy, was cranky and more tired than usual six weeks ago.
They first thought Carter was constipated, but he didn't respond to medication or get better. After getting blood test results, Carter was rushed from a hospital on the coast to Randall Children's Hospital.
Doctors there discovered a tennis ball-sized mass on his pancreas, along with several smaller masses "caking" his abdomen.
"Our suspicion is that some point his tumor ruptured and cells escaped and floated all around and set up shop in multiple different areas," said Dr. Janice Olson, the clinical director of the Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Program at Randall Children's Hospital.
While doctors knew Carter had cancer, determining the exact type of cancer took three weeks. Lab tests done by the Texas Children's Hospital confirmed pancreatoblastoma, which is found in about six children in 100 million, said Olson.
But in addition to the tumors, Carter also has elevated levels of an unusual hormone.
"We talked about him being six in 100 million, now he's down to maybe being one in a billion," said Olson.
Carter has gone through one round of chemo already. Olson is now researching previous cases to give him the best chance of survival. His treatment will likely include surgery and radiation, in addition to more chemotherapy.
"He has a little guardian angel hanging over his crib in the PICU [Pediatric Intensive Care Unit], and it says miracles happen to those who believe in them," said Kaitlin Thompson. "And we do believe in miracles. And we need one. So we can use all the prayers we can get right now."
The Thompsons say they are focusing on being present for their son and treasuring every moment with him rather than being angry or sad.
"I want this story to get out there so people realize they need to take advantage of what they've got," said Guy Thompson.
An account benefiting the family is set up at U.S. Bank under the name Carter Thompson. Friends have also created a Carter Thompson page on YouCaring.com.
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