YACHATS — A fundraiser is set for Feb. 9 to support a family whose 2-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer just after Christmas.
Uriah, whose third birthday is coming up this month, began to get sick on a recent trip to Hawaii, which caused his doctors to initially interpret his symptoms as giardia — a parasitic illness which is often the result of drinking contaminated water while traveling.
“He’s a bit of an interesting case because we had a misdiagnosis which made things take a little longer,” his mother, Regina Moore, said.
But with a couple key symptoms missing and weeks of Uriah eating next to nothing, Regina knew something was very wrong. She took him to the hospital, thinking he would at least need a feeding tube, and was told after a second round of blood tests to immediately take him to Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.
“So, we came up to Portland on Christmas Eve and have been here since,” said Regina. “We were in-patient for about a month and we found out that it was a cancer called neuroblastoma.”
Neuroblastoma is a fairly rare form of cancer, with only 800 cases being diagnosed in the U.S. each year, but is more common among infants and toddlers. It develops from nerve cells in fetuses called neuroblasts, which typically develop normally as the child is born, but can turn cancerous. Neuroblastoma tumors most commonly develop in the adrenal glands, above the kidneys.
“He’s got a pretty large tumor in his abdomen which explains why he couldn’t eat,” Regina explained. In addition, tumors were found near his eye, in his sinuses and in his bones.
Though they started chemotherapy quickly, Uriah and his parents have a long road ahead of them. The current treatment plan will take about a year and a half, if all goes well, and includes a number of unpleasant procedures.
“Me and my husband are both here and I’m really glad we can both be here,” said Regina. “We’re trying our best to make things seem as normal as possible.”
As a part of that effort, Regina shaved her head with Uriah when he started to lose hair from the chemo. Since his father, Glen, already shaves his hair, now all three of them match.
But going home is one thing that won’t be normal for a while.
“Right now, he has to go in twice a week for blood counts to see if he needs a transfusion or something,” Regina said, “So it’s not practical to go home in between visits.”
As a fairly quiet, independent family, the amount of community support they have already received was unexpected.
“There’s quite a few people who have met Uriah and they may not remember us but I think they remember him,” said Regina.
She also commented that she was “pleasantly surprised by people who are willing to do things, (who) we don’t really know.” People have brought the family their mail, are driving Glen home soon — so that Regina will have their one car in Portland — have organized to take care of the family’s dog and are putting on a fundraiser this weekend.
The lead organizer of the fundraiser is local business owner Raychel McCabe, who has had never met the family before hearing about Uriah’s illness. When she heard their story, she said, her heart broke for the family. She is especially able to empathize because of her own experiences: when her daughter was three-years-old, her family had a scare on Christmas Eve.
“The pediatrician told us we had to rush up to OHSU,” McCabe remembers. “And luckily, it had been a contaminated sample from the Newport Hospital … but I remember the feeling of just being terrified that my daughter was going to die. And for them it was a similar situation: he’s almost three years old, they went up on Christmas Eve to OHSU — but, for them, the result was much scarier. And so I really felt for them.”
Feeling an immediate need to help, McCabe used the greatest resource she had: her community connections.
“I already knew that we lived in a really incredible community,” said McCabe. “When things get tough for families … everyone around here just wants to help.”
Businesses have donated gift certificates and goods to be auctioned off at A Night for Uriah, the fundraiser than McCabe has organized: “now we just really need to get people to come to the event and bid on those things to raise money for the family.”
A Night For Uriah will be held at the Yachats Community Presbyterian Church from 4 to 7 p.m. on Feb. 9. The event will include live music, a cake walk and a silent auction. Tickets are available for purchase at Lil Joe’s General Store, the Yachats Video Store, Beachside Buzz or at the door: $10 for adults, $6 for children, children 3 and under are free.
Those wishing to support the Moores but unable to attend can donate to the family via PayPal at www.paypal.me/uriahsfight and follow Uriah’s progress at www.uriah.life.