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Chilliwack woman fundraising for pediatric cancer research after son’s death

Carmen Putz’s son Dylan diagnosed at 17, died at 19 in January
Save-On-Foods downtown Chilliwack held a fundraiser for childhood cancer research on March 12, 2022. Long-time store customer Carmen Putz’s son died of a rare form of pediatric cancer in January. (Submitted)

Carmen Putz lost her 19-year-old son Dylan to a rare form of pediatric cancer in January and now she’s raising awareness for what she says is the underfunding of childhood cancers.

A longtime customer of the downtown Chilliwack Save-On-Foods, the store hosted a BBQ on Saturday with all proceeds going to support pediatric cancer research.

A store manager said the fundraiser was well received by the community. Saturday’s fundraiser is part of Putz’s larger campaign through GoFundMe to bring attention to the cause.

She further wants to raise awareness by heading to Los Angeles to run the Tough Mudder race on April 9. Tough Mudder events are endurance running events involving obstacle courses.

“Our children fighting cancer are the toughest people I know and they deserve better,” Carmen said on her GoFundMe page.

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“My son Dylan was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in September 2020 at the age of 17. He passed away Jan. 25, 2022. Rhabdomyosarcoma is a highly aggressive, rare form of pediatric cancer that forms in soft tissue (muscles), connective tissue (tendons or cartilage), or bone. It usually begins in muscles attached to bone but it may begin in many places in the body.”

She said that over the last 40 years there have been no significant improvements in survival rates or treatments for the cancer Dylan died from.

”Childhood cancer is consistently underfunded, accounting for only five per cent of all cancer research in Canada today,” she said. “Cancer is the number one disease killing children from age six months to young adulthood.”

All the money raised by Carmen will be donated to two organizations that she said are researching to find better, less toxic treatments for rare, aggressive pediatric cancers: Dr. Noah Federman at UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center; and, Dr. Charles Keller at Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute (CC-TDI) for the start-up of a research lab dedicated to research for rhabdomyosarcoma.

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