Fighting childhood cancer

In memory of her son, Conner Crossan, who passed away in 2018 after losing his battle with osteosarcoma, Casey Crossan is selling mailbox bows through MIB Agents to raise awareness for childhood cancer.
According to Cancer.org, osteosarcoma is the most common type of cancer that starts in the bones and mostly occur in children and young adults.
Casey explained that Conner was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in April 2016.
“We went out of town for my dad’s 70th birthday,” Casey said, noting that since it was April, and they had just started wearing shorts. “My sister was walking behind him and asked why his knee was swollen. There was a bump on the right side of his knee.”
After seeing that his knee was swollen, and he was also having flu-like symptoms, Casey said they took Conner to urgent care on their way home.
“They took an x-ray and the doctor came back and said he made an appointment for us to see an oncologist at Brenner Children’s Hospital,” she said. “Initially, they didn’t think it was anything, but the ER x-ray technician knew right away that it was something serious and told Conner, ‘You’ll get through this.’”
Casey explained that they went to Brenner the next day, where medical staff did bloodwork to see what type of cancer Conner had.
“He was already metastatic (cancer had spread), but he never complained about the pain,” she said.
From there, a biopsy was done. Because the blood vessels were wrapped around his tumor, Casey said they were told Conner’s right leg would have to be amputated.
“The plan was to do chemotherapy for six months and then do the amputation, followed by another round of chemo for six months,” she said. “My husband and I agreed that we weren’t going to tell him about the amputation at first.”
Casey said the first week they went in for Conner’s chemotherapy, a PET scan was done and they learned that Conner had more tumors.
“He had tumors in his right and left shoulder, right hip and in both of his lungs,” she said. “At that point, the head of oncology went outside with us and said, ‘We’re going to do everything that we can.’”
Casey explained that once the other tumors were found and it was obvious that Conner had terminal cancer, they decided they were not going to do the amputation.
“They wanted to keep him on systemic therapy, so we had a fighting chance,” she said. “We were treated at Brenner actively for nine months. The first line of treatment was chemo three different times for nine months with one week at Brenner and one week at home for those nine months.”
Casey said they spent a year at the Cleveland Clinic with doctors that specialized in osteosarcoma, and they lived at the Ronald McDonald House. They also participated in a clinical trial for two months with Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Hospital.
Casey said they started a blog to keep people informed about Conner’s treatment and Casey and her husband, Bryan, both shaved their heads in September, four months after Conner was diagnosed, to raise money for St. Baldrick’s.
“That’s when I really started blogging,” she said.
Casey explained that the first chemotherapy treatments were rough; however, after getting anti-nausea medicine, Conner was able to live his life, and that’s what they did for the next two years.
Conner, who had previously attended Oak Ridge Elementary School, had a homebound teacher, and was able to do stuff with his friends when he felt good.
“We lived our life while he was sick,” she said.
Conner passed away on April 5, 2018, two years after his diagnosis.
Since Conner lost his battle to osteosarcoma, Casey has volunteered with the Ronald McDonald House and now is on the Patient Caregiver Advisory Board for Brenner Children’s Hospital.
Casey also got involved with MIB Agents, an organization whose mission is to Make It Better for children with osteosarcoma, and with Ruff Love by adopting a dog Conner had picked out a year before he was diagnosed. She has also worked with Shopping4Hope, and more.
Casey noted that MIB Agents have direct patient support, give an end of life experience, and fund research.
“We (MIB Agents) are the only 501(c)3 that hosts an osteosarcoma conference,” she said.
The golden bows fundraiser
Casey said MIB Agents for kids is selling golden bows for mailboxes during the month of
August to raise awareness for childhood cancer, leading up to Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September.
All funds raised from the sell of bows benefit MIB Agents. Bows are $20 and will be on sale now through September.
After the bows are purchased, Casey said she will personally deliver them, putting them on the mailboxes.
Casey added that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the children aren’t getting many of the things they were previously.
“This year, with no surprise with all the COVID restrictions in the hospitals, there are less things for kids to do. They are down to one parent, they have closed down the playrooms, there is no art therapy, no pet therapy, no music therapy, no Lego parties, friends can’t come to visit and celebrities can’t come to visit,” she said. “These are the things we’ve always done for kids, and we’ve gotten so many requests and everyone’s donations are down 50 – 60 percent for non-profits.”
Casey said the types of items children will receive include items of comfort and entertainment. Some of the items children will get include board games, noise canceling headphones, water bottles, pop sockets, socks, stickers, snacks, blankets, journals, art supplies, DIY projects, iTunes gift card, Amazon gift card and more.
Casey hopes to sell 500 bows this year.
“That’s $10,000. We’re selling them in different parts of the county this year, but a big chunk of that money will stay here at Brenner Children’s Hospital and Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte,” she said.
Casey’s goal now is to raise as much awareness about osteosarcoma and childhood cancer as she can.
“Osteosarcoma is rare and is the oldest form of bone cancer, but there haven’t been any new treatments in over 40 years,” she said.
There are 43 children diagnosed with cancer each day in the US. Only four percent of the National Cancer Institute’s budget is solely dedicated to childhood cancer research. In the last 20 plus years, only four new drugs have been approved to treat childhood cancers. There are over 12 types of childhood cancers.
To purchase mailbox bows online, visit www.mibagents.org/bows-conner. If you would like to pay by cash or check, send an email to Casey directly, casey@mibagents.org.

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