Meet Dylan Wolfe, a three-year-old boy from Camarillo, California who is currently battling inoperable brain tumors. Through the incredible bonds within the Southern California ice hockey community, Dylan and his mother Katie have been nominated and unanimously selected to be one of Face Off With Cancer's 2016 Beneficiary Families.
Dylan was born in June of 2012 and within the first few months of his young life, his mother Katie had some concerns, as most new mothers do. Her baby wasn’t gaining weight, couldn’t develop a sleeping pattern and was prone to significant mood swings. On top of that, Dylan seemed to have a cute little horizontal eye wiggle. But, Dylan’s pediatricians said these were all normal baby issues and he would grow out of them.
Around Dylan’s first birthday in June of 2013, it was observed that his eyes were still wiggling and now he was having problems grabbing finger foods and other small objects. He was referred to four different pediatric ophthalmologists over the next few months until one of them finally ordered a brain MRI to rule out any possibilities to do with Dylan’s brain.
After spending an entire Saturday traveling to, from and sitting in an MRI center, Katie and Dylan returned home to wait for the results. The following Monday, during dinner, the phone rang. The eye doctor was calling to deliver the results of the radiology report. The words “large mass”, “optic chiasm”, “hypothalamus”, “brain tumor” and “cancer” rang through Katie’s head as she struggled to sleep for the next few nights.
Within days, Katie and Dylan found themselves at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where they saw several different doctors and specialists. After a more thorough examination, the neurosurgeon deemed the tumor as inoperable. The ophthalmologist further evaluated his visual deficit and declared Dylan to be legally blind due to the amount of vision loss. The oncology staff at CHLA came up with an aggressive chemotherapy plan in an attempt to act fast.
Dylan was 13 months old when he was officially diagnosed and at 15 months old, he began a 60-week course chemotherapy infusions. Nausea, anemia, hair loss, trips to the emergency room and extended stays in the hospital became the normal while Dylan underwent the prescribed treatment plan. Dylan and Katie spent Mother’s Day of 2014 together in the hospital as part of a 3-day fever and infection scare.
In September, 2014, Dylan finished the course of chemotherapy and the MRI the following month confirmed that the tumor had shrunk from its original size. However, a new tumor had begun to grow right next to it. Follow up MRI’s in January, April and June 2015 showed that the second tumor was continuing to grow and the doctors prescribed more treatment.
During that time, doctors tried five different experimental medications that had no direct effect on shrinking any of the tumors. Dylan had surgery in March to remove is first port, only to have another put back in place in July of 2015 after doctors officially declared progressions. One week later, he immediately began treatments again. Dylan has received chemotherapy treatments on a weekly basis and MRI’s every three months since.
Dylan’s prolonged chemotherapy treatment has caused severe anemia, resulting in the need for an iron-rich diet and eventually iron supplements. Over this last Christmas and New Year, Dylan’s iron levels sunk so low that they were forced to cancel a treatment session in order for him to receive a blood transfusion.
In January, Dylan and Katie traveled to New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in hopes of finding a less toxic and/or more effective course of treatment. But to their disappointment, there was none to be found.
Dylan’s most recent MRI in April 2016 revealed that the first tumor hadn’t changed since the end of the first treatment cycle and remained at around 50% the original size cumulatively. However, some tumors should slight shrinkage, while others had slight enhancements. Dylan’s next MRI will be in July 2016 and will present another set of cross-roads for Dylan and Katie to face together.
Dylan’s intensive care regimen has left Katie, a single mother, without work and income for six months now. The limited hours she is able to work require a long commute in both directions in order to keep her eligible for her insurance benefits. This is where Face Off With Cancer would like to step in and help!
Recently, Michael Hanna, a friend of Katie’s and a Face Off With Cancer supporter, was able to connect the Wolfe Family with Scott Slinger and his staff at Iceoplex Simi Valley. Dylan’s fascination with vacuum cleaners took a huge leap when he got to have the experience of riding on a Zamboni ice resurfacing machine. Dylan’s story quickly made it through the Iceoplex family and when it reached Mark Hulings, another Face Off With Cancer supporter and Iceoplex hockey player, that’s when Face Off With Cancer got involved.
Mark submitted Dylan and Katie for support from Face Off With Cancer through our online nomination process. After reviewing their story, the FOWC Board of Directors unanimously agreed that Dylan should be one of the beneficiaries to this year’s 3-on-3 hockey charity tournament in August.
To further welcome Dylan and Katie to the Southern California hockey family, Face Off With Cancer invited them to enjoy the Los Angeles Kings vs Edmonton Oilers game on March 26th from an event suite at Staples Center. During that game, Dylan was invited down to the Staples Center event level to see the LA Kings Zambonis and got to cheer on the Kings from his front row seat in the event suite.
Face Off With Cancer is proud to join Dylan and Katie in their battle with brain tumors and hope that his story inspires you to do the same.
For information on how you can support Dylan and Katie, please visit www.FaceOffWithCancer.org.