Family rallies behind infant stricken with cancer

NORTH MANKATO – In January, Paul and Jen (Johnson) Verzalik, were hit hard by the news their son Carson Davis Verzalik, not quite one year old, was diagnosed with stage four Neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer.

The diagnosis came the day before Carson’s first birthday. The next morning he went into surgery at Mayo Clinic to remove a tumor doctors had found. In the last four months Carson has undergone several surgeries medical procedures including chemotherapy once every three weeks. He will eventually have surgery to remove the primary tumor on his adrenal gland, just above his right kidney.

As hard as the diagnosis was, the good news is the cancer was caught relatively early. Carson’s grandmother, Sheri (Davis) Windschill, of New Ulm, Jen’s mother, said that if not for a lump noticed by the parents, the family would never have known Carson was sick.

“He was developing normally and happy,” said Windschill. “He had the same energy level.”

Windschill is optimistic about her grandson’s chances, saying because of his young age, he is very resilient and is capable of handling greater doses of chemotherapy than the average adult.

Carson’s tissue reports came back favorable and doctors believe he has a good chance of being cured with treatment. The 15-month-old is fast becoming one of Mayo Clinic’s most beloved patients, his family says. While Carson has his down days, he remains upbeat and happy. Like most young boys, his favorite toy is a ride-on car. He loves music and idolizes his older brother Collin (age 6).

Carson has an extensive and loving family in New Ulm rallying behind him including; his grandparents Paul and Sheri (Davis) Windschill, Carlin and Deanna (Braulick) Johnson, George and Lark (Carlson) Brown, Gary and Olga (Guzman) Verzalik; as well as great-grandparents Vic and Mavis Davis, Betty Windschill, Roman and Phyllis Braulick.

The family is holding a benefit for Carson which will be held on Sunday, May 18 at the New Ulm Event Center. The family will be accepting free will donations and offering a roasted pork dinner. Laura Leighty (Carson’s aunt) adds that a live and silent auction will also be held during the auction, with the live auction starting at 12 p.m. Items in the auction include Twins tickets, a mini iPad, 32″ TV, a five-days stay at a condo in the Grand Caymans, various gift certificates, and numerous gift baskets. The live auction starts at noon. All proceeds go to a benefit for Carson’s cure.

Donated items may be dropped off at Citizen’s Bank or Oak Hills Living Center in New Ulm, Americana Bank or McCabe’s Ace Hardware in Sleepy Eye. Tax deductible donations can be made payable to “Thrivent Financial Chapter 31200” and mailed to Flocks of Love-A Cure for Carson: P.O. Box 161, New Ulm, MN 56073.

The benefit will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Take outs will be available as well. There will be games and activities for all ages.

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