By Jan Osborn
Early Fall 2006, Carson Leslie was a 14-year old high-school freshman busy with football, baseball, golf, girls and school when he had time, when one afternoon he told his mom that he was feeling weird. Since weird is a little difficult to diagnose, she wasn’t worried, but took note. Then for three weeks, back and forth to the doctors, specialists, blood work, tests, and sometimes at school, Carson announced he was feeling REALLY weird and thinks he was seeing two of everything.
He and mom jumped in the car, threw on the flashers and headed straight to Children’s Medical Center ER. Two hours later and one revealing scan, Carson’s mom and dad were invited down the hall to a private room where they saw that scan with a golf ball sized tumor settled in the back of his brain. Hearing words like brain tumor, cancer, neurosurgeon, oncologist, chemotherapy and radiation from the oncologist in that private room – knowing the fight was his, Carson and family carried by faith, family and friends pressed forward for three long years, and January 12, 2010, Carson took his last breath.
In 2010, the Carson Leslie Foundation (CLF) was launched honoring Carson’s last whispered wish and the foundation is dedicated to raising funds for research leading to a cure for pediatric brain cancer and enriching the lives of teens in the battle. CLF’s research is collaborative with an emphasis on the development of transformative cures for medulloblastoma, the most common type of the number one disease killer of children in the US, and the disease that claimed Carson’s life.
The Foundation got right to work and within 24 hours of his death they received an email from an investigator, “We received the tumor samples this morning…we just completed the injection of viable tumor cells into the brains of 10 mice…I will let you know the progress of this model development…please accept my sincere sympathy.”
In her quest to honor Carson’s whispered wishes, seeking solutions to the horrific problem that childhood brain cancer is the deadliest disease of our nation’s children, Carson’s mom Annette sought trailblazers, influencers, principals and mentors for advice and guidance in the space known only to her through her son’s valiant fight for life.