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Rochester Boy Faces Rare Disease with Courage

August 17, 2017 07:06 PM

(ABC 6 News)--One little boy in Rochester has undergone more medical challenges in his five years of life than many of us ever will.

Five-year-old Gus Erickson was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Neurofibromatosis less than a year after being born.

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"Gus was born a healthy, happy baby and when he was about eight, nine months old we noticed that he had these café au lait spots on his legs," said his mother, Becky Erickson.

After some research, Becky and her Husband Gregg found something called neurofibromatosis, a disease that causes tumors to grow through the nervous system.

"We took him into his pediatrician and after a series of tests he was given a diagnosis of NF. He wasn't really affected until he was about three and a half years old. He started growing really tall really fast and not gaining much weight,” said Becky.

Again, a series of tests led to a diagnosis of a large brain tumor.

"As parents we were terrified," said Gregg.

"After the surgery he did really well, except that he now needs to be followed very frequently," said the Head of Mayo Clinic’s Neurofribomatosis Clinic, Dusica Babovic, M.D.

Gus is one of 3,000 patients with his condition to be treated at Mayo Clinic. Still, though, his mom said not many people know about the condition. Which is why Becky and Gregg teamed up with the NF Network and formed a member organization in Rochester to supply support for others with this condition.

"We got that help at the time that we needed it and that's what really we want to do at this point," said Gregg.

"Spread awareness and educate people on what it is because through education and awareness comes funding and the end game here is to find a cure," said Becky.

As for Gus who was awarded the 2017 NF champion for his courage and optimism, staying positive is his super power.

"What makes you so brave?" asked Gregg to Gus.

"We never quit," smiled Gus.

Gus is now monitored by a number of specialists on a routine basis. He also does routine MRI’s to check if there's anything new and to make sure the original tumor is not coming back.


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