Cy-Fair senior marks 8th year of trumping disease
By VALERIE SWEETEN
Brent Adams, a senior at Cy-Fair High School, marked his 8-year anniversary of beating Langerhans cell histiocytosis on Nov. 29.
The rare disease attacks skin, bones, organs and the central nervous system as a certain type of white blood cells overgrow and cluster together. It primarily strikes children under the age of 10. Some cases are chronic and debilitating while others are fatal.
Treatment is chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Only one in 200,000 children born each year get histiocytosis. There is no single best treatment, prevention or cure.
Adams was 17 months old at his diagnosis and has endured 11 surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy
Last December, Adams completed his last Eagle Scout merit badge requirement. He did a 50-mile bike ride with his long time oncologist, Dr. Kenneth McClain.
In February 2009, Adams became an Eagle Scout.
Tassy Guenther, Life to Eagle Coordinator for Troop 655, watched Adams progress in scouting since he began as a Tiger cub in elementary school.
She and her husband, Rodney Guenther, Scoutmaster, were amazed and proud of Adams for his accomplishments despite his adversity.
"He just kept working and working," Guenther said. "All the kids admire him. Scouting gave him a place to be comfortable. The entire troop and others came to his Court of Honor. He's an awesome kid with a great sense of humor. He always gives his best effort."
Barbara and Richard Adams, his parents, were by his side during the ups and downs of medical treatment. They're incredibly thankful for his success at surviving the disease.
"At the time he was diagnosed, there was no effective treatment," Barbara Adams said. "We tried everything. Dr. McClain never gave up. He worked with dosages and schedules until the disease stabilized and improved. Brent is considered an index' case.
"He has a tremendous spirit. We got all our strength from him."
Brent's parents first became aware of his situation when he developed a yellow, waxy rash on his scalp as an infant in 1993. When his left eye developed a squint, they visited an ophthalmologist.
"They ordered an MRI immediately and found a distinctive tumor," Barbara Adams said. "They moved us to Texas Children's to confirm a diagnosis. Within two days, he was on chemotherapy. It was stunning."
Even with treatment, Adams developed the disease throughout his entire face. By spring 1995, he was hospitalized and given stronger, more toxic drugs while it progressed into his brain.
Chemotherapy was given directly into Adams' spine as they hope to prevent the disease from settling in his central nervous system.
After Adams stabilized at the age of 4, he underwent a nine-hour surgery to repair his eye socket that had been damaged by the tumor and treatment.
His mother said they most wanted a normal life for their son.
"He always had such a good attitude. He was home-schooled during chemo, but went to school after that. He joined Scouts and played piano and violin," Adams said.
Since 2001, all MRIs of his brain have been stable. He is not considered cured, but his disease is labeled as "quiet."