When Tristin Greer began experiencing pain in his stomach and back in 2010, the last thing he and his parents expected was a cancer diagnosis.
Because the average neuroblastoma patient is diagnosed at the age of 18 months, Tristin's doctors weren't expecting this form of cancer to be the cause of the 13-year-old's pain. Everyone was shocked and devastated when Tristin was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma.
In the five years after his diagnosis, Tristin crisscrossed the country to access clinical trials and state-of-the-art treatment, hoping to find the right therapy to destroy his cancer. He had numerous forms of chemotherapy and radiation—as well as treatment regimens that aren't as common to those outside of the cancer world. From his diagnosis until his passing, Tristin underwent monoclonal antibody therapy, a type of treatment that mimics antibodies' activity within the cancer cells; antineoplastic therapy to interfere with cancer cell growth so it can be destroyed by the body; and a drug compound called DMFO that aims to combat the enzymes and genes that allow tumors to metastasize.
"When the doctors told us Tristin's neuroblastoma was Stage IV, they said it would be a tough road," says Jason Greer, Tristin's father. "They were right."
A Light in the Dark
Shortly after Tristin was diagnosed with cancer, Wendy Ransom, President of Emily's Power for a Cure, reached out to the Greer family.
"We felt like we were in a dark hole with no light that we could see," Jason remembers. "It was nice to be able to talk to someone who could relate to what we were going through."
Emily's Power for a Cure provided emotional and financial help to the Greers, but the organization also provided something more—hope for an eventual cure for neuroblastoma.
"It's a great organization that is making a difference in the fight against neuroblastoma," Jason says. "The money it raises goes to clinical trials and gives our kids new hope for a cure. We would have been out of options if it wasn't for organizations like Power for a Cure."
Though Tristin's neuroblastoma treatment kept the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga freshman thousands of miles from his Hixson, Tennessee, home, the soccer and swimming enthusiast always kept a great attitude and was never without a smile. He participated many times in the Country Music Marathon as part of the Emily's Power for a Cure team—sometimes participating immediately after finishing a treatment session.
On May 29, 2015, Tristin earned his angel wings and joined Emily in heaven. His final days were spent with the same joy and perserverance he approached each and every day.
"I'm pretty partial, but I think Tristin was a pretty awesome kid," Jason says. "He never let cancer stop him from living life to the fullest."