Tuesday, September 11, 2007

As chemo continues, health improving some for 11-year-old with brain cancer, says father

The health of Ezra Chatterton, the fifth-grade World of Warcraft player diagnosed with brain cancer, is improving “in a lot of ways,” according to his father Micah Chatterton.

After regularly taking severe, prescribed painkillers, Ezra is no longer taking any prescription pain medication, something his father said the doctors had little expectation he could do.

A reduction in prescribed pain killers culminated Saturday, when Ezra stopped taking morphine altogether. His father, who works as a caregiver for an elderly woman while taking care of his son during the week, said in a phone interview Tuesday that the morphine withdrawals could last five to seven days.

“Which is a good sign that the treatments have had a positive effect on the tumors,” said Micah.

“Right now I'm just very happy that he's where he's at now, and that the cancer's not growing.”

The fifth-grader has finished radiation treatments, but has five chemotherapy treatments left. He takes one chemo treatment every six weeks. His father said that when Ezra takes chemotherapy, he is sick for about a week. He then has five weeks to recover before beginning the cycle again.

Four months ago, when Ezra made his trip to Blizzard studios in Irvine, he was having double vision. His father said swelling in his brain put pressure on a nerve to his eye, which caused his eye to lose mobility. He wore an eye patch to help. But now the swelling is down, and the eye patch is “mostly cosmetic,” Micah said. “He wears it and his fedora when he goes out.”

Ezra tires quickly. He cannot walk more than 100 feet at a time, and does not have a lot of stamina to play WoW, Micah said, though he does strategize with his father about what his character needs in the game.

“He's still very involved with the mythology and strategy of the game—he's just not playing it very much. It's very much a part of his fantasy world that he imagines while he's lying in bed.”

Micah is looking forward to starting physical therapy, which will help rebuild Ezra's strength, and allow his activity level to increase.

Ezra's character “Ephoenix” has been sometimes fighting in the “Battlegrounds,” a place where players can fight with each other, because he can earn new armor and weapons there.

“His set (of armor) has gone a little out of date in the last couple patches,” Micah said.

Shadow Council player “Adriano” was glad to hear Ezra was able to stop taking morphine. “That's good news,” the player said in an in-game interview. “Certainly I wish him the best.

Players can post well-wishes and find information about his benefit fund at the Web site, ezrachatterton.org.

--L. Waymire