KTTU "In Focus," Sunday, October 2, 2011, 10:30 AMPosted: Updated:
Host Bob Lee interviews Jerry Zillman, President and co-founder, Tee Up For Tots, a not-for-profit that raises funds for pediatric cancer research, specifically neuroblastoma, and assists with support services for pediatric cancer patients and their families.
Zillman says his daughter, Courtney, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a pediatric solid tumor cancer, in May '96 at nine months old. He says after various treatments, including surgery and chemotherapy, her cancer went in to remission. But, he says, it returned six months later and it was determined that nothing more could be done. He says on Thanksgiving morning, November 25, 1999, Courtney passed away peacefully at home.
Zillman says the challenge for most patients with neuroblastoma, which typically occurs in children younger than 5 years, is that it has already spread when it is first diagnosed. He says that makes treatment difficult and the prognosis is usually not good. He says possible signs of neuroblastoma include pain and a lump in the abdomen, neck, or chest. With Courtney, he says it started with an ear infection and then a swelling of the temple over her right eye. He says it has been determined that every baby is born with the neuroblastoma gene, but it's unknown what causes the gene to turn cancerous in some infants.
Zillman says Tee Up For Tots started as a one-time golf tournament to raise money and create awareness of the disease. He says $75,000 was raised which went toward purchase of a necessary diagnostic tool for Steele Memorial Children’s Research Center in Tucson. He says he was encouraged to continue the golf tournaments each year and thus far as returned over a million dollars toward neuroblastoma research.