Children's Hospital Colorado

Boy Becomes "Radioactive" in Effort to Beat Cancer

9News | October 30, 2014
Picture of Ben Brewer leaning against a wall, wearing a striped polo shirt.

Ben Brewer is a 13-year-old boy who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma (a type of pediatric cancer that attacks the nervous system) when he was 2 years old. Ben has relapsed several times through the course of his diagnoses and most recently, Ben and his family made the decision to undergo metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) therapy.

How does MIBG therapy work? 

Ben underwent his first round of MIBG therapy in July 2014 at Children's Hospital Colorado, one of only 12 programs in the nation to offer this therapy. In fact, Ben was our first patient to experience the new MIBG room at Children's Colorado.

As part of the treatment, Ben received a special type of intravenous (IV) radiation in a lead-lined room specifically designed for patients diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Ben's treatment involved high doses of radiation that targeted his cancer cells; he then had to stay in this room for four days after the infusion until he was free from radiation in his body.

Learn more about the MIBG Program at Children's Colorado.

The big news: Ben finds out if treatment worked

Six weeks after undergoing MIBG therapy, Dr. Meg Macy met with Ben and his parents to share the good news: The scans showed no sign of cancer in his body.

September 2015: Update on Ben

Throughout 2015, Ben has been traveling to New York City every month to have designated therapy done to keep him healthy. On Sept. 21, Ben went through one more round of scans in New York and was expected to hear that he was still cancer-free, however, the scans showed a spot on his leg.

On Sept. 25, Ben went through another round of scans and tests at Children's Colorado and learned there were five small spots of cancer back in his body. Ben and his family met with Dr. Meg Macy and went over several treatment options.

September 2016 Update: A long time coming

Over this last year, Ben has undergone five rounds of intense chemotherapy which required him to be hospitalized to fight the five spots of cancer that came back in 2015. Good news is, he is now currently cancer free. Unfortunately, his type of cancer, neuroblastoma, is one of those diseases that tries to outsmart the body and usually returns many times.

"We know that without treatment, neuroblastoma will come back," Ben's mom Sarah Brewer said. "We simply can't have that. This therapy is our best option."

The therapy she is talking about is a clinical trial for a drug that could keep the cancer from ever coming back. Ben has been waiting two years for this.

"It's been a long time coming," Ben said. "I'm very happy and excited but there's always that fear of something bad keeps happening. I'm scared it might happen again. I just have to maintain my hope and keep my hopes up."