Reprinted with permission,
Courtesy, Asbury Park Press, a Gannett Co. newspaper.
TOMS RIVER BUREAU
ASBURY PARK PRESS
- Patty Henry was worshipping at Old St.
John's Church in Lakehurst on Jan. 1, 2005, when she noticed
a dark lump on her son's neck.
Some disturbing thoughts passed through her mind — her
family has a long history of cancer — but she tried to
remain positive and upbeat.
Four days later, after a series of tests, Patty's worst fears
were realized. Her 14-year-old son, Derek Biederstadt, was diagnosed
with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes, which
are the body's blood-filtering tissues that help fight infection
"When they told me, it just blew my mind," Henry said. "They
said it was in the 3B stage but that it was curable. If you are
going to get cancer, I guess, this is the one to get."
The community is banding together to help Biederstadt and his
family. Benefit softball games are scheduled for Saturday at
the Manchester Little League Complex on Route 571. In the 1 p.m.
game, National League and American League coaches from the Little
League will play; the winner will play a game at 3:30 p.m. against
a team comprised of members of the Manchester Policemen's Benevolent
Association Local 246 and the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.
Felicia Finn, who has known Biederstadt for six years, said
everyone is working hard to "come through for the boy."
"We had a bowling tournament to help him, and we thought a benefit
softball game would be a great idea, too,"
Finn said. "He is such a nice kid and he seems to be pulling
through it well. He is not letting it get him down."
On Jan. 7, Biederstadt had surgery to remove the cancer at Jersey
Shore University Medical Center, Neptune. He requires radiation
treatments at Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch, for 24 consecutive
days. He has 18 treatments to go.
"They bolt down his head to make sure that it won't move," Henry
said, describing the treatment. "To see him lying on the table
like that and watching the radiation go through him just blows
you away. It's amazing what this can do, the good and the bad.
We are just hoping that there are no secondary cancers, like
lung and heart damage."
Henry said her son has had his ups and downs emotionally and
is reluctant to talk about how he is feeling.
"He is my only child, and I know he does not want the radiation," she
said. "But he doesn't have a choice."
Henry said she has really been touched by the community's outpouring
"It has been overwhelming, at times," she said. "People have
been bringing over dinners, helping me with transportation needs
and contributing to fund-raisers. It has been amazing. It just
warms your heart that so many people care."
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