HAZARD — Gunnar Hurt is a couple of months away from turning two years old, and yet he has already endured a battle that many adults will never know. On Aug. 29, Gunnar was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, which is a type of cancer that effects developing cells. In other words, Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that attacks children. Along with cancer, Gunnar has also been diagnosed with Opsoclonus and Myoclonus Syndrom, an extremely rare condition that effects approximately one out of every 10 million people each year.
OMS is an autoimmune condition, mostly associated with Neuroblastoma, that causes the immune system to try to find the tumor in Gunnar’s body and attack it. However, the immune system is unable to detect the tumor. Thus, it strikes the central nervous system instead.
Gunnar’s journey through cancer treatment has included a biopsy, bone marrow testing and a procedure to draw fluid from his spine. He has received eight rounds of chemotherapy, with each round, except for the last one, causing him to feel sick.
This entire battle is being waged against one, tiny tumor. Normally, with one tumor involved, surgery can cure the cancer. Such is not the situation with Gunnar because his tumor is sitting directly on his adrenal gland, with arteries running right through it on their way to Gunnar’s kidney.
“He’s done really well,” Cassie Hurt said in regards to her baby boy, “He’s handled it better than me. He doesn’t cry when they access his port. He’s named his port Charlie.”
A port is a direct line into the blood stream that the patient has inserted for a long period of time. The port is usually used to prevent doctors and nurses from having to continuously poke a patient with needles to start an I.V. When asked about Gunnar naming his port, Cassie Hurt laughed.
“That got started with the doctor,” she said, “They were calling the port Charlie, and they would say they were giving Charlie drinks when they would use the port. So, he started calling his port Charlie.”
Although the battle has been tough, Gunnar’s tenacity is paying off. The tumor inside of his body has shrank significantly through the chemo treatments. He is maintaining a healthy appetite, and his energy levels are normal for a two-year old.
“He wears me out,” Gunnar’s father, Earl Hurt, said with a chuckle, “He has enough energy to wear 10 people out.”
Earl Hurt is no stranger to cancer. In 2008, Earl was diagnosed with Leukemia, which returned in 2011. As of now, Earl Hurt is cancer free and devoting 100 percent of his energy to making sure his son’s cancer battle ends with the same success.
“We’ve just got to take it day by day,” Earl Hurt said, “We know that God will take care of him.”
Gunnar continues to receive an outpouring of prayers and support from the community. On April 2, the annual Save-A-Lot Race Day will be taking place in Hazard. Every year, Race Day devotes proceeds from the event’s cookout and auction to a couple of people in the community, who are suffering with illness. This year, Gunnar Hurt and Ricky Moore have been chosen.
“We’ve been amazed by the support we’ve received,” Cassie Hurt said, “I want to thank everyone I work with and everyone in my community. God bless all of you.”
“We wish there was more childhood cancer awareness than there is now,” Earl Hurt said, “Right now only 4 percent of cancer funds go to childhood cancer, and we think the children are worth more than 4 percent.”
A Facebook page has been created, titled “Prayers for Gunnar Hurt.” Gunnar’s fight will sustain until the cancer is completely gone. He continues to receive shots every other day and he undergoes six hours of I.V. infusions once a month. But Gunnar is also making progress. He laughs and plays. His Easter was filled with smiles. Gunnar Hurt is overcoming some mighty big obstacles for such a little fella, and the community is standing right beside him all the while.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.