Sen. Ayotte voicing support for terminally ill Hudson cancer patient
HUDSON — The plight of a young Hudson cancer patient hasn’t gone unnoticed in Washington.
On Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte. R-NH, voiced her support for 12-year-old McKenzie Lowe, a local sixth-grader suffering from a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer.
Lowe’s family is currently seeking federal permission to pursue a controversial and experimental treatment for the little girl’s rapidly growing brain tumor.
It’s been a year since Lowe was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). Doctors initially warned the family that the disease’s survival rate was close to zero, as the brain tumor was inoperable.
Lowe fought through several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, with her tumor initially responding to treatment, shrinking nearly in half.
However, her doctors worried a relapse was possible. Recent exams have shown that her tumor is growing yet again. This week Lowe is celebrating 12 months post-diagnosis and continues to defy her doctors’ expectations, though her loved ones know the girl’s condition could change in an instant, given the aggressive nature of the disease.
Family friend Kimberly Frenette said the family is holding out hope that a new drug not yet approved by the FDA may be able to help her in her fight against DIPG.
Frenette and members of the Friends of McKenzie Lowe group have banded together to circulate an petition via the Change.org website.
The goal, Frenette said, is to obtain 100,000 signatures. As of Tuesday evening, nearly 40,000 people from around the world had signed the petition.
Among the signees was Sen. Ayotte, who contacted FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg this week, urging her to consider a compassion exemption for Lowe.
“Whether or not a terminally-ill child is able to receive certain types of care should be a decision made by the family. I would hope the FDA would not stand in the way when no other treatment options are available for an already terminally-ill child,” Ayotte said this week.
The senator has reached out to the Lowe family, noting that they fully realize that the benefits of Antineoplastons, a drug that’s currently being researched at Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski’s Houston, Texas, clinic, have been disputed in the medical community, with previous FDA actions taken against Burzynski.
Ayotte noted, however, that there have been documented cases of patients reacting positively for the treatment, while the Lowe family noted that some patients in past studies have even had their tumors shrink over time.
The FDA currently classifies ANP as “investigational new drug,” meaning it has yet to be approved for mainstream usage.
“For a family who has been told that there is a zero percent survival rate for the type of cancer their daughter has, understandably, even some positive results from a drug are enough for them to want to take action,” Ayotte said. “McKenzie doesn’t have much time to wait right now.”
In the meantime, those who know Lowe best are counting their blessings.
“Last year we didn’t think we would have another Thanksgiving with our precious daughter,” Lowe’s mother, Dianne, wrote on the “Friends of McKenzie Lowe” Facebook page Tuesday evening. “Although it’s been a rough year, we couldn’t be more thankful to be sharing the day with the family.”
To sign the petition, go to change.org and type in “McKenzie Lowe” in the search box.