A cancer diagnosis is tough, particularly for a toddler and his family.
Learning he has a rare predisposition to cancer is even a tougher battle.
Fortunately, Ozzie Goldman is one tough kid.
Much more concerned about baseball than fighting cancer, the Bayfield 6-year-old will have his own event next week: OzFest.
Organized by friends of the Goldman family, OzFest features four local musicians and bands from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 24, in Joe Stephenson Park. There also will be children's activities, food, beer tent and a silent auction.
Mom Robin Goldman said the family is fortunate to have health insurance, but the co-pays and travel expenses to treat his two conditions can get a bit overwhelming.
He was 2 years and 3 months old when she said she noticed a lump on his shoulder. It took multiple tests and scans to diagnose him with rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer made up of cells that normally develop into skeletal muscles. After four surgeries, 23 radiation treatments and 40 weeks of chemotherapy, "he kicked his cancer to the curb," said Robin Goldman.
When Ozzie was 4 years old, he tested positive for a rare cancer predisposition condition called Li-Fraumeni syndrome. People with the syndrome are at an extremely high risk of developing multiple cancers in their lifetime. Because there is no cure, people with LFS are screened often for cancers common with the syndrome in hopes of catching them early.
At the age of 5, a routine brain scan showed areas of concern. About seven months later, he had his first seizure. At 6, Ozzie had his second, third and fourth seizures and was diagnosed with epilepsy. Ozzie underwent two brain surgeries in January - one to remove a tumor and a second to biopsy a tumor in his thalamus.
Ozzie is now undergoing chemo to battle the inoperable tumor in his thalamus.
"Through all his health hurdles, Oz has managed to keep a smile on his face and is far more concerned with hitting his next homer than he is worrying about doctor stuff," his mother wrote on the event's Facebook page, OzFest Bayfield.
Ozzie's dad, Zan, works at the Durango Public Library, and sister Gracie is 9. Ozzie will be in second grade this school year at Bayfield Elementary.
"He's a tough kid," Robin Goldman said. "People say, 'You're so strong,' but we just focus on today, and today he is running around," even though he had a chemo treatment earlier on Tuesday. She said the chemo isn't too bad - there's a big dose for the first treatment of the month that can wipe him out, but then two smaller doses on subsequent weeks, and then he gets a week off.
The festival will coincide with his off week, so the family hopes he's feeling well and can attend and see his friends.
Learning that rhabdomyosarcoma is curable was a big boost, she recalled. So was being able to stay at Brent's Place, a home for pediatric cancer patients and their families near Children's Hospital in Denver, where he has visited specialists and had many of his scans.
The event organizers wish to thank the sponsors of Oz Fest: the town of Bayfield, Southwest Ag, Lewis True Value Mercantile, Bottom Shelf Brewery, Ska Brewing, Riff Raff Brewing and the Bayfield Lions Club.
Jered Davis, one of the organizers of the event who also plays in Midnight Backhand, said the music will be great and he hopes people will come to the park for a fun event.