OKLAHOMA CITY - There are some cancers that take weeks or months to beat.
For others, fighting cancer becomes woven into the fabric of your life for years on end.
That is the case with 7-year-old Blake Carter from Shawnee, Oklahoma.
He went blind at 18 months of age, right after he was diagnosed with tumors in his optic nerves at Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer.
His parents, Beau and Lois Carter, said they were heartsick to learn Blake inherited a disease from his mother.
“I have neurofribromatosis” Lois said. “It causes tumors to grow everywhere on the nerves. When I was young, I had a tumor growing on my optic nerve, which caused me to be blind in one eye.”
For the past five years, Blake has gone through five different chemotherapy therapies.
But, the tumors always come back, and now there are tumors on his brain stem.
Dr. Rene McNull, Blake's pediatric oncologist, said his case was “incredibly distressing.”
Blake is her only patient to ever go blind while on therapy.
The drugs they were using at the time had always reliably stopped tumors in their tracks but not in Blake’s case.
“I’ve known him since he was 18-months-old, and he’s basically been on some type of therapy that entire time,” McNull said.
She said the silver lining in the case is her continued relationship with Blake, who she describes as incredibly curious.
“He’s a turkey butt,” she laughs. “He’s not afraid of anything, and that’s including going into your billfold and pockets to find everything.”
His mother said he loves to learn braille and enjoys math at school.
Fortunately, the tumors have not touched the part of Blake’s brain that holds his personality.
Now, McNull and Blake’s family is hoping Blake can be part of a clinical trial for targeted gene therapy.
This would allow them to try an entirely new approach to fighting the growth of his tumors.
“You can’t focus on the negative. You have to focus on the positive steps and go for that,” Lois said.
She adds Blake has a medical team at Jimmy Everest on his side and they’re always searching for new treatment options that can help.
“They’re family,” Beau said.
'Kids With Courage' is sponsored by the Jimmy Everest Center.