A young boy is the first in the world to have a rare form of cancer spreading through his body, but he has a fighting chance thanks to groundbreaking treatment.
12-year-old Reef Carneson has a life-threatening cancer that’s normally slow to progress, limited to the skin, and seen in adults who have spent years sunbathing without suncream.
He was first diagnosed with advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) in 2015, but a chemotherapy cream seemed to have mostly cured it by 2019.
Sadly, the skin cancer was then found to have spread to his bones and brain in 2020.
Just days after Reef and his family were told to say their goodbyes after it was found the cancer had spread to his lungs, Reef was offered another chance at life with a new treatment.
This therapy has never been used in children anywhere in the world to battle this form of cancer, and Reef’s unusual case makes him the first kid to undergo Cemiplimab—a programed receptor-1(PD-1) blocking antibody, which teaches the patient’s body’s immune system to recognize the cancer cells as not part of them and harmful.
Reef, who has lived with immunological complications after beating leukemia as a baby, has kept on fighting and his proud mom, Lydia Carneson, said he is responding well to the treatment, which began on May 7.
The mom of three said: “It’s amazing. He is stable and we believe the treatment is working… We feel unbelievably blessed at this time. We believe he is a miracle a thousand times over.”
In the meantime, Reef has mentioned that he has three wishes: to have a pet duck, to go to the mall, and to go camping.
Now he has two ducks named Donald Duck and Daisy. He’s visited the Metro Centre mall in Newcastle on a VIP experience: Five stores invited him to pick out whatever he’d like, with no budget limit.
“He is so humble that he picked a lot of ducks, sweeties, and balloons,” his mom said.
Here at GNN, we’re wishing Reef and his family a wonderful camping trip as soon as it’s as possibility.