10-Year-Old Fights Rare Brain Tumor

Hewitt Sluyter
The only time he cried was at the possibility that he wouldn’t get to go back to school.
Hewitt Sluyter
Pediatric Brain Tumor Patient

Nothing could stop 10-year-old Hewitt from being a kid – not even a rare brain tumor. After a series of migraines throughout the month of March, Hewitt’s parents, Christen and Jared Sluyter, took him for further evaluation, where an MRI revealed a baseball-sized tumor on his occipital lobe. Biopsies showed that Hewitt had a rare, malignant embryonal tumor, which is found in the central nervous system and begins forming in the fetal cells of the brain. Hewitt’s tumor was removed shortly before Mother’s Day in May.

Christen and Jared describe Hewitt as an extroverted, easy-going, intellectual boy. They said Hewitt loved being in the hospital because that’s where people go to get better. “His resilience, joy, and focus to get back to being a kid was astonishing,” says Christen. “The only time he cried was at the possibility that he wouldn’t get to go back to school.”

Christen and Jared first learned about proton therapy through Hewitt’s pediatric oncologist in their home state of Arkansas. Because of the accuracy and precision of proton therapy that spares healthy tissue, which is particularly important in growing children, the couple didn’t entertain any other form of radiation. The family applauded Texas Center for Proton Therapy staff for their kindness and the care they provided for Hewitt.

Family friend Scotti Lechuga created “Do It for Hewitt,” a bike ride challenge that encouraged Hewitt’s community to bike as many miles as possible on summer solstice in June, the longest day of the year. That day alone raised $50,000 for the family’s medical expenses, in addition to a separate $3,000 donation from Hewitt’s school “Lemonade Wars” competition. Not only were Hewitt’s parents thankful for the immense support from those who were rallying around them, but they were also glad to be raising awareness for this rare type of cancer.

Hewitt finished proton therapy treatment in July and will receive chemotherapy back home in Arkansas over the course of the next several months. Christen explained that there are a lot of unknowns, but that Hewitt is teaching them to focus and stay positive through this journey. The family hopes to have Hewitt graduate with his fifth-grade class in May 2023.

Learn more about proton therapy for childhood cancers or call 469-513-5500 to find out if proton therapy is the right treatment option for you or a loved one.

The information included in this testimonial is based on one patient’s unique experience and is not intended to represent all patient outcomes or expectations.

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