Ian's operation

Fundraiser aims to help family of 6-year-old boy with brain tumor

Fundraiser aims to help family of 6-year-old boy with brain tumor

March 27, 2006|by KRISTIN WILSON

On Dec. 4, 2005 Ian Rogers was a perfectly normal 6-year-old boy who loved chasing bugs, catching spiders and digging in the dirt.

But on Dec. 5 he began showing signs of dizziness and became unresponsive. He was rushed to the hospital, where doctors found Ian was bleeding in the area of his brainstem.

For three and a half months, the Rogers family, of Hagerstown, watched Ian endure surgeries to drain the fluid accumulating in his brain. They watched as Ian lost the abilities to speak and move his limbs. They waited for results of countless computerized tomography scans and magnetic resonance imaging reports before getting the news March 16 that Ian has a fast-growing cancerous brain tumor known as glioblastoma multiforme.

It is the kind of news no parent ever wants to hear.

"You never think it's ever going to happen to you," says Heather Rogers, Ian's mother. "Why would it? He was a healthy kid."


Ian is about to start a six-week radiation program as part of a Johns Hopkins clinical trial in Baltimore. Doctors hope the radiation will kill Ian's cancer cells or at least slow down the cells' growth.

But even with the treatment, Ian's chances of recovery look bleak, Rogers says. Doctors have told her 95 percent of the people who are diagnosed with this brain tumor die within five years of diagnosis. A majority of that 95 percent die within the first year, she says.

"Maybe he'll have super duper good luck with this and be a miracle," Rogers adds. "Basically, they've told us he's going to die."

The Rogers family is leaning on faith and on the support offered by people in Washington County - including people from Ian's school and the family's church.

In January, Mount Aetna Adventist Elementary School, where Ian attended kindergarten, kicked off "Operation Ian," a fundraiser to help the Rogers family with expenses. The approximately 100 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade collected pledges and spent an entire school day learning more about Ian's condition. The students did physical activities, learned about the brain, "all things related to Ian's case," says Kandace Zollman, the school's principal. In the end, more than $7,000 was raised and given to Heather and Jeff Rogers.

Four churches in the Hagerstown area are contributing money to Operation Ian to help cover the Rogers' weekly expenses at The Children's House at Johns Hopkins - a family-centered residence for children receiving medical care at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore.

Students at Hagerstown Community College also are contributing to Operation Ian.

One student at the community college attends the same church as the Rogers family and asked the Student Government Association if it could do something to help, explains Renee Earley, coordinator of student activities. Last week students held a bake sale. They plan to donate half of the proceeds to the Rogers family.

Heather and Jeff and Colin Rogers, Ian's 2-year-old brother, don't know how long their son and brother will be able to fight his cancer, but they are hopeful for the future.

"Our greatest hope is to take Ian home and fill his days with sunshine, fresh air, bug hunts and fun times with his friends and pets," says Heather Rogers.

To learn more ...

Ian's school, Mount Aetna Adventist Elementary School, is accepting contributions for Operation Ian. The school will make sure donations are delivered to the Rogers family, says Kandace Zollman, the school's principal. Checks made payable to "Mount Aetna Adventist Elementary School" can be sent to 10207 Crystal Falls Drive, Hagerstown, MD 21740. Please mark Operation Ian on the check. For more information, call Kandace Zollman at 301-824-3875.

The Rogers family maintains a Web site about Ian and his condition at

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