TRAVERSE CITY — At age 6, Cam Deering was diagnosed for the third time with a rare cell disease.
Friends and church members have long offered to raise money for expenses, but it seemed “weird” to accept help, said Cam’s dad, Mike Deering.
This time around, Cam’s parents agreed.
“They’ve been wanting to help us for a long time,” he said.
A group called “CamUnity” is selling raffle tickets and will hold a “Fun on the Farm” event behind Moomers Ice Cream on North Long Lake Road on Sept. 15.
Cam, now 7, is undergoing chemotherapy and often can’t swim because of a port for the medicine. He wishes he could be “normal” like other kids, said his mother, Sommer Deering.
“This whole benefit thing is pretty uplifting,” she said. “We remind him that everyone is behind his back. And we pray for him. I think the support really does help — the little things people send him in the mail.”
Cam was diagnosed with Langerhans cell Histiocytosis (LCH) when he was 10 months old. Essentially abnormal cells proliferate in areas they don’t belong. In Cam’s case, the cells have attacked his skin, bones, brain, sternum and lungs.
“Some doctors consider it a cancer, others don’t. There’s not much to differentiate the two,” said Nedra Shoobridge, his grandmother. “It’s a disease they still don’t understand. He’s now got some in his brain and behind his eye. It’s been in all different places, but when it gets in his brain it’s the worst. It’s not a good thing.”
The family thought Cam was “home free” after the disease went into remission for the second time. The third relapse has been hard to take, Mike said.
Cam, a Westwoods Elementary second grader, said in an interview, he was “sad” when heard the disease came back.
Cam’s medical expenses are covered by state-provided health insurance, but family friend Jon Maue said the family must deal with other expenses, such as the cost of running to Helen Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids and missed work.
“We’re just trying to make it so they can concentrate on their family, and not have to worry as much about the financial side of things,” he said.
Justin Grimm, pastor of the Advent Lutheran Church in Lake Ann, said the church community formed a leadership committee after hearing the disease returned. Traverse City Area Public Schools and many local businesses also are supporting the cause, he said.
“The money is important, but it goes much deeper than that,” Grimm said. “It’s just about surrounding them with community to let them know we love and care for them.”
How to help out Cam Raffle tickets and a "Fun on the Farm" event are planned to benefit the family of Cam Deering, a 7-year-old battling a rare cell disease. "CamUnity" team members are selling 1,000, $100 raffle tickets for a chance to win a new 2013, two-door Jeep from Bill Marsh Automotive Group or $20,000 cash. The second-place winner will receive an ATV from Long Lake Marina. The drawing will take place at the Sept. 15th "Fun on the Farm" event to be held behind Moomers Ice Cream at 7263 North Long Lake Road from 1-6 p.m. The afternoon will feature live music, games, food, beer, wine and soft drinks, silent auction items, and Moomer's ice cream. It also features the live music of Jetty Rae, The Accidentals and Stella. Donations will be accepted. Raffle tickets are available at Advent Lutheran Church, the Bill Marsh Auto Group, Long Lake Marina, Moomer's Ice Cream, and The Corner Toy Store. All proceeds from the raffle and event go to the Deering family. For more information, please go to camunitytc.com.