- Associated Press - Saturday, May 10, 2014

COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) - Sam Nahorny has dreams of being a bobsledder, an FBI agent and a firefighter.

He might add pitcher to that list once he takes the mound at one of baseball’s most historic stadiums.

The 6-year-old will throw out the first pitch June 22 for a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field and more than 100 fans from the area will be there to cheer him on from the stands. The group should be noticeable as most will be wearing gold or blue Sammy’s Superheroes T-shirts.

The shirts, worn by children and adults, are a common sight around Columbus. It is a visual way to spread the message the Nahorny family has championed since Sam was diagnosed two years ago with neuroblastoma, a form of pediatric cancer.

Sam’s parents, Erin and Chris Nahorny, and their friends created a nonprofit foundation called Sammy’s Superheroes to help raise awareness and financing for childhood cancer research, an area Erin said is greatly underfunded.

“I’m very helpless with Sam’s disease. There’s nothing I can do to fix this or save him. We as Sammy’s Superheroes are going to make a difference,” Erin told the Columbus Telegram (http://bit.ly/1qgtmtD).

The group has raised thousands of dollars through fundraisers and donations, money that will help fund research focused on childhood cancer. The foundation recently gave its first contribution of $50,000 to The University of Chicago Medicine to help fund a study that centers on individualized chemotherapy treatment for tumors.

The university was selected because that is where Sam has received treatment. His latest visit there was in April to Comer Children’s Hospital where he went through high-dose radiation therapy.

The therapy is called metaiodobenzylguanidine, or MIBG, and it involves injecting the patient with radioactive iodine that is delivered directly to the tumor. It is an option when other therapies don’t work.

Because of the radioactive dose, the patient must be isolated in a lead-lined room until the radioactive levels go down.

Sam has been through chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant to stop the progression of cancer that is in his bones and bone marrow. But nothing was working. The next option was MIBG therapy, which is only available at a few hospitals in the country.

The treatment in Chicago was the second time Sam has been through MIBG therapy. He had it previously done in Boston. It was difficult to tell if that had a positive effect, because Sam also had maintenance chemotherapy around the same time, Erin said.

This time, he won’t. The family will wait to see if this therapy shrinks any of the cancer. There is hope that it will work as patients have a 30-40 percent response to it, Erin said.

Sam was the first patient to receive MIBG in Chicago. Even though his parents went through the experience once before, it was a difficult six days in the hospital. Having to leave Sam alone was the worst.

Initially, his parents were only able to be in his room for a total of 40 minutes. That increased a bit each day as Sam’s radioactive levels went down. When one was allowed in his room, they had to wear a disposable gown, gloves and booties and stand behind a lead wall for their own protection. The primary mode of communication between the parents and their child was through a monitor and walkie-talkies.

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