Sam Santhuff, 5 years old, went to pick blackberries with his twin sister Ava and his dad Matt on August 1. Somehow, Sam got over 100 seed ticks bite, and his parents, fearing Lyme disease, took him to the doctor. When applying lotion on her son’s bites, his mom Cassie noticed a bump in his nose and took him to an ENT doctor.
After several biopsies and as many doctors, on Aug. 26, Sam was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of tumor which had affected his nose and cheek. “I really think that blackberry trip saved Sam’s life,” Cassie said. In total, Sam has undergone six surgeries within five weeks to remove the tumor, reconstruct his face and develop Sam’s nostril. The tumor was removed, but after time and time again of shaving parts of Sam’s face to remove the cancer cells, physically removing the cancer was no longer possible.
Sam and Cassie flew to Florida on Saturday. For one month, the mother-son duo will live in Jacksonville as Sam undergoes proton therapy at the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute. The proton therapy will target the remaining cancer cells in Sam’s head and be able to attack it without having an exit point. Although there is a possibility of side effects, because proton therapy does not have an exit point, it highly lessens the chance of dangerous side effects.
Throughout the whole process, Matt and Cassie said they are proud of how Sam has fought.
Having faith in their lives has proven to be effective for him, whom Cassie said talks about God and how He is going to take care of him. After Sam’s parents use monetary donations for their expenses, they plan to start a foundation in Sam’s name toward childhood cancer research.