It has been a week of triumphs and setbacks for Jason Overman, the 5-year-old Orem boy who battles cancer as his neighbors raise funds that could save his life.
Family and friends have raised $88,000 of the $150,000 Jason needs, but a neighbor said doctors have found cancerous tumors near his stomach and behind his heart."He will go in this weekend for surgery to remove them, and he will also have more radiation treatments," fund-raiser Kathy Woods said Thursday. "The doctors are very optimistic about his recovery. But it will push his other surgery back a couple of weeks."
Jason suffers from neuroblastoma, a rare form of nerve cancer that leaves him with only a 20 percent chance of survival. With a bone-marrow transplant from his 16-year-old sister, Julie, his chances would increase to 50 percent.
The Overmans have done many interviews to draw attention to Jason's plight but have now withdrawn to bond as a family before Jason's medical ordeal. They prefer not to be interviewed and have asked friends such as Woods to coordinate fund raising and answer questions.
Jason began feeling tired in January, Woods said. Local doctors told his mother he suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, but when treatment didn't help, the Overmans took their son to Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City.
"Doctors there diagnosed him right away, they started the chemotherapy in February," Woods said.
The family's insurance will not cover the transplant because it is considered experimental. And the UCLA Medical Center will not admit Jason until $130,000 has been raised.
"We were worried. In the first three weeks, we only raised $12,000, but the people are really coming together to help now."
Jason is weak, and his weight has dropped to 32 pounds, less than threequarters what an average 5-year-old weighs. His immune system is working about half as well as a normal child's, Wood said.
"The big worry is that he will be exposed to some other illness he cannot fight off," she said.
Woods is pleased with fund-raising success.
"Spanish Fork High donated its senior class fund, which was $1,000. Mountain View seniors donated $4,500, and East High in Salt Lake donated their book return fees - $4,000.
"Orem Junior High ran a carnival to raise money, and Vinyard Elementary raised $500 selling popsicles that had been donated.
"Trafalga water park has donated the money it made on Jason Overman Day. And we have about 350 donation cans at convenience stores around the state, and at Copper Rivet stores. We even have a few cans in Arizona and Wyoming. And a veterinarian donated the money he made one day.
"A breeder has donated a yearling Arabian colt that will be auctioned off Saturday."
People also have donated gift certificates, a mountain bike, a purebred Chesapeake Bay retriever and many quilts.
And Geneva Rock has pledged to donate $25 for every yard of concrete poured on June 18. A spokesman said workers are eager to help because Jason's father, Jon Overman, was an employee before he started his own concrete business.
Woods said the family is trying not to be discouraged by the delay of Jason's marrow transplant, or the fact that not enough money has been raised yet.
"If the community keeps helping at the current rate, Jason will get his surgery." It probably will be scheduled for mid-July.
Those wishing to donate may sent contributions to any branch of Zions First National Bank, addressed to the Jason Overman Cancer Fund.