Kevin Freeman was a real go-getter by the time he turned nine in 2006. He was a competitive gymnast, played ice hockey and the piano, excelled in school and was a caring child.
That same year, though, Kevin was diagnosed at CHOC with medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor found in children. It carries an overall survival rate of 75%. However, after a relapse, this plunges to less than 20%—and drops lower with each relapse.
Kevin relapsed in 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2018 and had brain surgery each time at CHOC to remove each new tumor. Over the years, he also underwent chemotherapy, radiation and other treatments.
Sadly, the cancer eventually spread and Kevin passed away in February 2020. Yet, throughout his 14-year battle with cancer, he and his family never lost hope.
According to his father Steve, “Kevin never gave up the expectation that the people around him would support him and give him the best care and quality of life that could be given.”
What’s more, Steve and his wife, Corrine, “got our strength and optimism” through the world-class, compassionate care provided at CHOC. Steve remembers how doctors “listened to our questions. They were there when we needed them.”
How to Honor Their Son and Give Back
After Kevin’s passing, Corrine says that “we were looking for a way to memorialize his legacy.” At the same time, Steve explains, “We wanted to give back and set something up that would support CHOC.”
So Steve and Corrine decided to help advance the scientific research being done at CHOC. Specifically, they wanted to further the efforts of our doctors, including those on Kevin’s care team, who were studying their son’s disease.
With the help of the CHOC Foundation, the Freemans created the KPF for Medulloblastoma Research fund. This fundraising effort supports research they hope will someday change the course of treatment, allowing other young patients to benefit.
Researchers have already identified some drug compounds that effectively kill tumors in culture not previously known to treat medulloblastoma. By funding the study, the Freemans want to help them expand those results and start a clinical trial for the treatment of the disease when it relapses.
The ultimate goal is to translate treatments discovered in the lab to those for patients—especially therapies that decrease the risk of long-term side effects from treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.
For example, radiation affected Kevin’s ability to produce growth hormones and he only grew to be four and a half feet tall. Says Corrine, “He grew maybe two inches beyond what he was when he was nine years old.”
Steve says, “We thought the fund would be a great way to memorialize Kevin and give lots of people the opportunity to help. It would also help get the name of CHOC out there.”
To date, $63,108 has been raised to support this important research and provide new promise for children and young adults with medulloblastoma. As Steve declares, “We’ve been very, very blessed and happy that people have been willing to give so generously.”
CHOC is incredibly thankful to the Freemans for honoring their son in such an impactful way.
To learn more about the KPF for Medulloblastoma Research fund, or to donate, please visit raiseup.choc.org/honor/KevinPatrickFreeman.
This story appeared in the January 2022 print issue of the CHOC Chronicles newsletter.