ASHTABULA COUNTY, OH - Lon Riffle loves baseball.
“It’s just a fun sport. You get exercise, but you have fun at the same time,” the 12-year-old said.
His dad, Bud, watches with pride as the Crusaders out of Geneva take on a team from Painesville.
“I don’t think a parent could ask for more than that after what he’s been through,” said Bud.
“It’s not fun to go through a brain tumor. I mean, it hurts. It hurts going through the surgery and it’s not fun being in the hospital,” Lon said.
When Lon was just 3 years old, doctors discovered a tumor, a craniopharyngioma. The toddler underwent an eight hour surgery. It was successful. But then, it came back. At 5 years old, another major surgery.
Lon’s open and honest about what he’s endured, showing off the scar on his head.
“We’ve always encouraged him to talk about this freely, because it helps him,” Bud said.
The Riffles consider themselves blessed. Many times, Lon’s type of cancer is misdiagnosed as migraines and by the time it’s found it can be too late. Some children go blind. But the family believes they got world class treatment at The Cleveland Clinic.
“He couldn’t have been in better hands,” said Bud.
Lon will have lasting effects. The tumor impacted his pituitary gland which means he needs a shot of growth hormone, every night. But he’s alive and hasn’t had a recurrence in seven years.
“Since I know that’s all gone, I can focus more on baseball, not brain tumor,” Lon said.
Every day, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer. Brain cancers account for 15 percent of all pediatric cancers.
One of the organizations funding research to improve treatment is the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. Lon will be featured as a Star Child during this year’s annual motorcycle ride called “Ride for Kids.”
Ride for Kids is happening Sunday June 11 in Independence.
Click here for information about how to sign up or support a rider.
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