Weekly Feature

2010-12-01 / Lifestyles

‘ We Need a Miracle’

Benefit planned for son of Mount St. Mary faculty member
by KRISTEN KOTZ Reporter

Three-year old Christian Schaer is undergoing treatment for Wilms’ tumor, a form of pediatric cancer that affects the kidneys. He was diagnosed in August and will be having surgery to remove the affected kidney on Dec. 1. Three-year old Christian Schaer is undergoing treatment for Wilms’ tumor, a form of pediatric cancer that affects the kidneys. He was diagnosed in August and will be having surgery to remove the affected kidney on Dec. 1. B eing diagnosed with cancer has a devastating effect on the person suffering from the life-threatening disease. It is even more tragic when the cancer is diagnosed in a child.

René Schaer, a dance teacher at Mount St. Mary Academy in Kenmore, had the unfortunate experience of having her 3-year-old son, Christian, diagnosed with Wilms’ tumor, a rare kidney cancer that primarily affects children.

Also known as nephroblastoma, it’s the most common malignant tumor of the kidneys in children. The peak time of Wilms’ tumor occ is around ages 3 to 4, and it occurs only rarely after age 6.

Although Wilms’ tumor can occur in both kidneys, it tends to affect just one kidney. Wilms’ tumor is believed to develop from immature kidney cells.

The disease occurs in about one in 200,000 to 250,000 children. Children whose tumors have not spread have a 90 percent cure rate with appropriate treatment.

Christian was diagnosed with the cancer in August and has been undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He will be having surgery on Dec. 1 to remove the affected kidney.

Christian’s diagnosis came just days before the opening of school, and the family is faced with the financial strains of an unplanned leave of absence due to the family crisis.

To help make this difficult time a little easier for Schaer and her family, Terrie George, the owner of Terrie George’s Dance Theatrics in Kenmore, has planned a benefit to raise funds for the Schaer family.

At 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, the TGDT Boosters and Mount St. Mary Academy will present Terrie George and friends in “Are You Ready For A Miracle,” an evening of Christmas song and dance as a benefit for Christian Schaer and the Schaer family.

Tickets for the event are $10 presale and $12 at the door. They can be purchased presale by calling Terrie George Dance Theatrics at 877-4814. All proceeds from the event will be given to the Schaer family.

“It’s an easy thing to do as a show of support,” George said. “Everyone was so stunned. Especially when you have a 3-year-old child, people are always wondering ‘Why?’ People want to be there and want to help. This is a simple way for people to show support.”

George said a Mount St. Mary staff member called her about five days before school started and had asked her to fill in for René Schaer as the school’s dance teacher. George added that if all goes well with Christian’s surgery, Schaer will return to teaching at the academy after Jan. 1.

George said she and Schaer were in a production together in the late ’80s or early ’90s. She added that the dance and theater community in the Buffalo area is very tightly knit, and people involved with it may have heard mention of someone and know his or her story but may not have actually met the person.

About 35 performers will be participating in the event. The Jakiel family will be performing selections from “White Christmas.” Tom Doyle will be playing the piano and singing “Silver Bells” and other Christmas songs.

Katie Battaglia Pogorzelski, an alumna of Mount St. Mary’s, will be performing “We Need a Little Christmas” from the musical “Mame.”

George said there is a big opening number planned for the show. The song chosen for the opening number is “We Need a Miracle.” She added that she felt the number was appropriate for the show because despite his illness, Christian has been doing very well.

“He (Christian) has got a wide base of spiritual support, and the number seemed to lend itself to the atmosphere of what everyone is hoping for and praying for,” George said.

The Mount St. Mary community has been supportive of the Schaer family during this difficult time. The students and staff at the school have held a number of candlelight vigils and prayer circles for Christian. George added that sometimes a person who is going through a tough time can benefit from having people around them, and community members would be able to show their support for René Schaer by attending the benefit show.

“I hope people will come,” George said. “We have lots of seats to fill. The more attendance we have, the bigger gift we can offer. That is basically what we are here to do.”

(Editor’s Note: The Bee was asked by friends of the Schaers and staff members at Mount St. Mary not to contact the family until after Christian’s surgery.)

e-mail: kkotz@beenews.com

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