Davie couple’s personal battle against childhood cancer helps others

DAVIE, Fla. – Ian Besner was just 10 years old and looking forward to spring baseball season in January of 2006 when his mother noticed the glands on either side of his neck were swollen.

“It didn’t subside and so I kept going to the doctor and having him checked. They checked him for mono, they checked him for all kinds of things. He was perfectly healthy before that,” Beth Besner said.

Then came the diagnosis: T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

“It’s very aggressive,” Besner said.

While doctors were able to put the disease in a form of remission, the harsh treatments left Ian’s immune system vulnerable to infection.

He died from meningitis just a few months after his diagnosis and one week before his 11th birthday.

“These drugs are so toxic they’re killing kids not just during treatment, but sometimes after treatment," Beth Besner said. “The statistics are that two-thirds of these kids treated with high dose chemotherapy have long term side effects.”

Besner and her husband, Brad, created a foundation in Ian’s memory called ‘I Care, I Cure,’ which is focused on funding clinical trials directly benefiting children with cancer.

“The old model was you do the research for adults and you dumb it down for kids, and that’s not the way it can actually be done now that we know more about the genetics of childhood cancer,” she said.

Much of the funding from the ‘I Care, I Cure’ annual 5k race and festival has gone to exploring targeted therapies which offer greater benefits with fewer side effects.

“We feel we’ve helped make the community more aware that if they just do a little something, they can do something about this,” Besner said.

The 13th annual 5k run/walk and Family Fun day will be held at Nova Southeastern University in Davie on Saturday.

Registration is at 7 a.m. and a concert will be held at the end of the race.

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