Quad Cities, Iowa/Ill. (KWQC) – Cancer. The six letter word is scary to hear no matter your age or circumstance. Among the more than 100 types, Ewing’s Sarcoma is one relatively rare cancer. Only about 200 children are diagnosed in the U.S. each year according to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. As it turns out though, it may not be that uncommon in the Quad Cities area.
Brian and Nancy Strub flip through pictures of their son Nick to relive the good years. They say that not a day goes by that they don’t think about him and miss him. Nick had been dealing with back pain for several years when, at 24, doctors found a tumor on Nick’s rib. The diagnosis was Ewing’s Sarcoma.
“We were terrified at first. Then once we knew the extent of the disease it was just a matter of you just hang on by your fingernails,” said Nancy.
The family didn’t know much about the disease but quickly learned that it’s rare and it’s aggressive. Dr. James Petre has seen a couple of cases as a local family physician.
That may have been the case for Nick Strub but he was determined for a good outcome.
“He was optimistic the whole time. Always saying, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m going to beat this,'” said Brian.
Seemingly, he had beat it. Nick got married, built a house, moved on with his life. Then, after a year of being cancer-free, his pain returned. It was November of 2011 when Nick lost his battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma.
Sister-in-law Holly Larson also holds onto happy moments shared with Nick. Beyond what’s displayed on a shelf and in photo albums, the family knew they wanted to do something more.
“So it became more important I think to not only celebrate Nick’s life and honor him, but to do something good with his memory,” said Larson.
That’s when the Nick Teddy Foundation was formed in honor of Nicholas Theodore Strub. Each year, Nick’s hometown of Port Byron goes from being a quiet community on the river, into a town swelling with runners and walkers for a 5-K race that continues to grow each year.
“That first event we raised close to $20,000 and it was sort of like, wow. We really can, small grassroots effort can really make a big impact,” said Larson, Executive Director of the foundation.
It’s money to go toward research. Through Nick’s journey with the rare cancer the family also learned how little funding goes toward it. Part of the mission is to try to change that. After five years the Nick Teddy Foundation is nearing $150,000 raised.
In addition to raising money for Ewing’s Sarcoma research and awareness, some of the money is directly helping others. The Strubs were surprised like most people to find out how many cases there have been locally in recent years. There are numerous families that they’ve connected with that are facing the same fight.
“I mean, it’s pretty amazing. Initially it was a little challenging to reach out and talk to people simply because our story didn’t end the way they probably hope their story ends,” added Larson.
“They all know we can’t fix anything. It’s their fight and we can’t do it. But taking the pressure off is really satisfying when somebody says, that really helped me out,” said Brian.
For more information on the Nick Teddy Foundation, CLICK HERE.
For more information on Ewing’s Sarcoma from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, CLICK HERE.