Boy with inoperable brain tumor makes request for Christmas cards

By Naomi Guidry

news@americanpress.com

VINTON — When asked what he wanted for Christmas, 8-year-old Drake Quibodeaux’s requests were simple. He told his mother, Danielle, that he wanted to spend time with his family and receive Christmas cards.

“That’s all he wants,” she told the American Press Thursday.

Schools and residents from across the state have made it their purpose to send as many cards as possible to Drake, who was diagnosed this year with Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).

According to defeatdipg.org, DIPG is a “brain tumor found in a part of the brain stem called the pons. The pons controls essential bodily functions such as heartbeat, breathing, swallowing, eye movement, eyesight and balance.”

“In January,” Danielle said, “we noticed that when he smiled, the right side of his face didn’t raise.”

When they took him to the pediatrician, the diagnosis was cerebral palsy. Danielle, having worked in the medical field in the past, didn’t agree with the diagnosis.

Drake then had eight more doctor visits.

“On March 11, Drake was driving our boat,” Danielle said. “He came home, took a nap, woke up, had two seizures and was paralyzed. We took him to Cal-Cam (hospital). The ER doctor was from Fort Polk. She did every test under the sun and couldn’t find anything.”

Drake was then life-flighted to a children’s hospital in New Orleans, where they received the diagnosis.

“They told us to take him home and make memories,” Danielle said. “They said they could radiate him, but it wouldn’t do anything.”

The Quibodeauxs then took their son to Texas Children’s Hospital, where he was admitted.

“He couldn’t swallow or lift his head up,” Danielle said. “They started radiation and he fully regained all of his abilities in a month.”

Drake started chemotherapy in August.

Danielle said Drake’s tumor is at the base of his brain.

“It spiderwebs and wraps around his healthy tissue,” she said. “There’s no way to remove it.”

She said he is still mentally intact, but that DIPG will take away all of his other functions, including walking, talking, swallowing and sight. As for now, Danielle said Drake has no symptoms and is “doing wonderful.”

Danielle and her husband, Chris, have two other sons, 16 and 4.

“It has traumatized us,” she said. “My husband and I … there’s nights when we just cry. It’s one thing when you have a sick child who can heal, but it’s another thing when there’s nothing that can be done.”

Danielle said a benefit in July helped pay for medical bills, but that the family faces a $6,500 deductible in January. After that amount is met, the Quibodeauxs will continue to pay a 20 percent co-pay for Drake’s medical treatment.

The family has to return to Houston every 28 days to requalify for a chemotherapy trial. If his absolute neutrophil count levels aren’t at least 1,000, Drake cannot continue with the chemotherapy and will be disqualified from the trial. According to cancer.org, absolute neutrophil count (ANC) is a measure of the number of a certain type of white blood cells that fights against infection.

“Every 56 days, we have to add an MRI into that mix,” Danielle said.

Drake is taking a chemo pill at home.

“This chemo that he’s on,” Danielle explained, “most adults do 20 (milligrams) four times a month. Drake is doing 25 mg six times a month.”

She said that chemo doesn’t normally cross the blood-brain barrier, “so we’re praying that it will prevent anymore cancer cells. The problem with this tumor is that it normally spreads to the spine.”

According to defeatdipg.org, “DIPG affects children almost exclusively. Approximately 200-400 children in the United States are diagnosed with DIPG each year. These children are typically between the ages of 4 and 11. DIPG accounts for roughly 10-15 percent of all brain tumors in children.”

Danielle said statistics show that only 5 percent of patients with DIPG survive 12 months past diagnosis, and only 1 percent survive two years past diagnosis.

She wants people to be aware that only 4 cents of every dollar donated to a cancer research cause is used for child cancer research.

As for Drake, he is a typical boy, Danielle said. His favorite clothes include jeans and cowboy boots, and he’ll tell you his favorite color is “camo.”

“He loves to hunt and fish,” she said. “He plays XBox one. He loves this Farming Simulator game. He loves Popeye’s.”

He is also a big fan of Louisiana State University and recently met team members and LSU Head Football Coach Ed Orgeron.

When the family stays overnight in Houston for appointments or treatment, Danielle said they play board games together.

“We go to Bass Pro Shop. He loves it there,” she said. “They know him by name.”

Drake also enjoys visiting the Children’s Museum in Houston.

Anyone wishing to send Drake a Christmas card can mail them to 2412 Hwy. 388, Vinton, LA 70668.””

Drake Quibodeaux, 8, of Vinton, was diagnosed earlier this year with a tumor in the base of his brain. He passed away early Monday morning. 

Special to the American Press””

Chris, Drake, Danielle and Haidyn Quibodeaux recently attended an LSU football game — made possible by the organization Cannonballs for Kayne. Drake was a fan of LSU football.

Special to the American Press””

Anyone wishing to send Drake a Christmas card can mail them to 2412 Hwy. 388, Vinton, LA 70668.

Special to the American Press

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