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Mom, 13-year-old son seek help to lower Indiana’s high cancer tumor rates

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Startlingly, Indiana has the 10th highest rate of brain and central nervous system tumors in the country, according to the American Childhood Cancer Organization.

Garrett Kiefer, 13, is a childhood brain cancer survivor. He found out he was in remission in 2022.

His mom says she is concerned with the prevalence of brain cancer in Indiana kids. Bobbie Kiefer said, “That’s really scary I never realized they were that high. I mean, is there a reason why it’s that high? I mean, is there more research that can be done to figure out why the cancer rate is so high with the pediatrics and especially the brain cancer?”

She was a widow with five kids when Garrett turned 5 years old. When Garrett turned 10 she found out he had brain cancer. All of this came after she herself survived cancer.

“Garrett used to be a big spry boy,” Kiefer said. “He wrestled, played football and baseball, loved to fish, rode motorcycles, things like that, and then to be confined to a wheelchair, it was pretty rough.”

She says Garrett is a strong kid.

Garrett says the diagnosis really didn’t phase him. “It wasn’t that scary. I was kind of worried about my mom though; she burst out and started crying.”

He found out he had cancer in March 2020, so treatment was more isolating than normal as the global COVID-19 pandemic took hold. He got a lot of his treatment at the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital. Garrett said, “I didn’t like it at all. I got really sad during it.”

The Kiefers want more support for families, and hope care options can be expanded to make it easier for the next family. Bobbie said that means “have more programs with local hospitals so we’re not having to travel out of state to get the treatments that we needed.”

Leaders of the American Childhood Cancer Organization say they want more effective treatments with fewer harmful side effects to help children. The nonprofit made up of advocates and health care professionals is asking Indiana lawmakers to create a dedicated source of funding to help accomplish these goals.