Eight-year-old Zamora Moon Martinez-Lusinchi of Woodside, who in July was diagnosed with an up-to-now untreatable and always fatal brain tumor, has been accepted into a clinical trial in Bristol, England, where chemotherapy drugs will be injected directly into the tumor via a micro-catheter that will be robotically implanted in her skull.
Zamora's mother, Marisa Martinez, said the family is working to raise the $93,000 cost of the treatment, which the family must pay because the procedure is experimental. The family will have to travel back and forth to Bristol at least six times for treatments, she said, so could also use donated air miles. Donations can be made through GoFundMe.com.
Zamora's family and supporters have already raised more than $33,000 toward the cost, and have had accommodations for their first trip donated, Ms. Martinez said. The date of the first treatment has not yet been confirmed, but it may be as soon as Oct. 27, she said.
Zamora has a tumor called a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, known as DIPG. According to the DIPG Registry website, the tumor grows out into healthy brain tissue, making it "impossible to surgically remove DIPG tumors without damaging healthy tissue." It grows near where the spinal cord joins the brain, in the part of brain that regulates, among other things, breathing, balance, bladder control and sleep.
Treatment is difficult because the brain protects itself against intrusion from outside agents through what is called the "blood/brain barrier," meaning most drugs never reach the tumor.
Tests on a biopsied sample of Zamora's tumor showed which drugs should be effective. In Bristol those drugs will be infused via the micro-catheter, Ms. Martinez said.
Ms. Martinez said that after the Almanac ran a story about the family, who live in the Kings Mountain neighborhood off Skyline Boulevard, they were contacted by a doctor who shared an unconventional medical treatment with them that has kept Zamora's tumor from growing. She has also received radiation and is taking steroids.
Zamora has good and bad days, her mother said. "She has her ups and downs," she said.
Some days, her mother said, Zamora is able to attend school at the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy in San Francisco's Castro District, where Ms. Martinez is on leave from her job as a kindergarten teacher.
"The next day she won't be able to walk or talk," she said.
See an earlier story here.