Family raising money to fight tumors
by Kristal Dixon
kdixon@cherokeetribune.com
September 04, 2009 01:00 AM | 1181 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
From left, Scott, Lauren, Adrienne and Sharon O’Prey are raising money for for the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children by participating in William’s Walk & Run on Sept. 12 at the Mansell Crossing Shopping Center in Alpharetta. The family has raised $1,200 of their $2,500 goal, but say giving has been hampered by the recession.
From left, Scott, Lauren, Adrienne and Sharon O’Prey are raising money for for the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children by participating in William’s Walk & Run on Sept. 12 at the Mansell Crossing Shopping Center in Alpharetta. The family has raised $1,200 of their $2,500 goal, but say giving has been hampered by the recession.
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The O'Preys of Towne Lake are gearing up for another year of battling childhood brain tumors.

The family is raising money for the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children by participating in the upcoming 11th annual Williams Walk & Run.

The fundraiser will be conducted at 8 a.m. Sept. 12 at the Mansell Crossing Shopping Center on North Point Parkway in Alpharetta.

The one-mile walk will begin at 7:30 a.m. and the 5K and 10K runs will begin at 8 a.m.

The proceeds will go toward programs and services the foundation provides to families.

Sharon O'Prey said it's been a difficult year for the family to raise money. Team Prey-Prey is hoping to raise $2,500 for the run. So far, the team has raised $1,200. The team had a goal of $3,000 last year, which it surpassed.

In light of the economic downturn, Mrs. O'Prey said this may be the first year the family won't reach or surpass its goal.

"It's been a really difficult year fundraising," she said, adding donations are slow, but steady.

The O'Preys' involvement in raising money for research stems from their oldest daughter's battle with brain tumors.

Lauren, a fifth-grade teacher at Barrow Elementary School in Athens, was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 2 during her senior year at Etowah High School.

The disorder, according to the National Institutes of Health, is characterized by the growth of noncancerous tumors in the nervous system.

While Lauren was undergoing a routine annual eye exam, her optometrist noticed something behind her eye. The doctor referred Lauren and her family to a neurologist.

An MRI revealed Lauren had five brain and spinal tumors: one on each of her acoustic nerves, one behind her left eye and two tumors fused together on the middle portion of her brain.

The two fused tumors were removed in May of 2005. While such a procedure could cause memory loss, she did not suffer any.

The right acoustic nerve tumor was removed at the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles in June of 2006, which did lead to a loss of hearing in that ear.

Lauren now has MRIs each year to monitor the tumors. She still has the tumor on her left acoustic nerve and the one behind her left eye, but is not scheduled for surgery, as neither is malignant.

An MRI in June showed slight growth in a few of her tumors, Lauren said.

She said since her tumors are "slow-growing," the growth was natural. If the tumors get a size where it would cause damage to the surrounding nerves, Lauren said she will likely undergo a form of radiation to reduce the size of the tumors.

Now, she said she's holding off on radiation until it is absolutely necessary. Surgery to remove the tumors isn't an option, as they are located in an area that could suffer from "significant, permanent damage," she said.

Lauren's cancer diagnosis came on the heels of the family dealing with younger sister's Adrienne's special needs.

Adrienne was diagnosed with benign congenital hypotonia, static encephalophy and cerebral palsy when she was 18 months old.

Lauren recently graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor's degree in early childhood education and is working to complete her master's degree in early childhood education with a reading education endorsement from the same institution.

She hopes to complete her degree in fall 2010.

She also hopes people continue to give towards the fundraiser.

"There is currently no cure for pediatric brain tumors," she said. Research is the only hope for a cure."

Mrs. O'Prey echoed her daughter's sentiments.

She also said people should feel comfortable with donating to a local organization that will help local children.

"To me, it's a good cause," she said.
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