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Material things are gone, family remains together through boy's cancer diagnosis





Wednesday, July 11, 2012 6:21 AM EDT


OSWEGO NY” Julian Thomas Ross is a typical 7-year-old who likes video games,  camping and dreams of growing up and serving his country as a military  police officer and a volunteer fireman. However, life is anything but  typical for this shy little boy, who is already in the fight of his life against an extremely rare form of cancer.

Julian suffers from neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer that  afflicts only 650 children in the United States annually and 1,095 kids  worldwide. According to the National Library of Medicine — a service of  the National Institutes of Health — neuroblastoma is a malignant tumor  that develops from nerve tissue and most commonly occurs in children  younger than 5. The disease attacks the sympathetic nervous system,  which controls body functions such as breathing and digestion, while  causing fever, general sick feeling and loss of appetite among other  symptoms.

Steve Ross, Julian’s father, said his son started to  experience these symptoms just a few days before he was diagnosed Aug.  4, 2011, at the Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse. He said Julian was given a 3 to 6 percent chance of survival.  Julian’s fevers, cramps and loss of appetite were initially misdiagnosed as everything from  food poisoning to a burst appendix. Mr. Ross said when the correct  diagnosis was made, he and his wife, Kristi, were given the choices of  letting nature take its course or treating their son with no guarantee  of positive results.

That fight led the Ross family to the Children’s Hospital of  Philadelphia (CHOP) and to Dr. Yael P. MossĂ©, a neuroblastoma  researcher, after Julian became resistant to chemotherapy. Mr. Ross said the experimental treatment includes radioactive iodine injections that  make the patient radioactive for about two weeks. He added that Julian  must be isolated in a lead-lined room immediately following the  treatments, and his family must limit their exposure to him during the  two-week period.

We had to fight for him, Mr. Ross said. He would just curl up in a ball on the floor and cry.

He is ready for a stem cell transplant and no one ever thought he would  make it to this point, Mr. Ross said, who added Julian is doing better  under these treatments and his chance of beating the disease has risen  to about 25 percent.

The fight has not been without costs to the  Ross family.  Mr. Ross lost his job soon after Julian began receiving  treatment at CHOP, forcing the family to pay Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) insurance payments that only cover a portion of the $450,000 cost of Julian’s treatments.

Mrs. Ross said almost everything the family owns is for sale, including their home, furniture and even their wedding rings.
The problem is the COBRA payments, Mrs. Ross said. My  husband lost his job and benefits, and we have to pay COBRA an obscene  amount.

Members of the city of Oswego Fire Department have  stepped up to help the Ross family and have organized a benefit chicken  barbecue Aug. 4, the one-year anniversary of Julian’s cancer diagnosis.  The benefit will be held at the Port City Faith Assembly of God Church,  located at 436 W. Fifth St., in Oswego, with 100 percent of the proceeds going toward Julian’s treatment.

Lt. Brooks Hourigan, an Oswego  city firefighter, has been helping organize the event and donations for  Julian’s medical bills. Hourigan said the event will also offer a raffle for an iPod Touch, a 50/50 drawing and ‘Julian’s Joust’ bracelets will  be sold.

‘We have adopted him as one of our own,’ Hourigan said,  whose own son rode with Julian on a fire truck in Oswego’s Independence  Day parade.’

Mr. Ross said his family was grateful for the  kindness and generosity shown to them by the Oswego firefighters “beyond what words can express.’

Julian, given the opportunity to pass a message along to his new friends in the fire department, simply said, ’Thank you.’

Julian has his own website tracking his story at

Anyone interested in helping with donations for the auction at the benefit can contact Hourigan at 342-5570.

Some links to Web site dedicated to Helping Julian:

Julian’s web site

YouTube video about Julian

Oswego FD hosts benefit for boy with aggressive cancer

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