No Evidence of Disease: Jacksonville Teen Beats Cancer, Goes Back to School

For Immediate Release
Betsy Langan
Regional Manager, Development
(240) 235-2282 | betsy.langan@curesearch.org

Jacksonville, Fla. – When Melissa Zona attends CureSearch’s Superheroes Unite! Event in Jacksonville, Fla. on December 9, she’ll not only support the advancement of children’s cancer research, but she’ll also celebrate the bravery of her very own cancer superhero – her 13-year-old son Devon.

In February 2016, as the Zona family settled into a new life after moving from Virginia to Jacksonville, Devon awakened one morning to a headache that brought him to tears. An emergency room doctor believed that Devon had a migraine and sent him home. But when the pain returned a few days later, Melissa rushed her son to the emergency room once more, this time demanding that he undergo a CT scan.

“I held Devon’s hands to help him relax while we waited for the results,” Melissa says. “But when the doctor walked in, I knew the news wasn’t good. His face said it all.”

Team Devon

After finding a growth on Devon’s brain, doctors whisked him to nearby Wolfsons Children’s Hospital for five hours of emergency surgery. The diagnosis was medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in children.

Devon’s treatment plan included six weeks of radiation and about one year of chemotherapy. This spring, MRI results revealed that Devon had no evidence of disease. He continues to undergo imaging scans to monitor his condition, and he’s improved his balance and restored his strength through physical therapy.

On August 14, his 13th birthday, Devon began a new school year with friends and classmates (“No more hospital homebound school,” Melissa posted on the #TeamDevon Facebook page).

Devon Zona, Medulloblastoma

On December 9, Melissa and Devon will participate in Jacksonville Superheroes Unite!, a day of play for children battling cancer (the superheroes) and their sidekicks – the friends, family members, and caregivers who support them in their fight. Funds raised at the event, which will be held at the Nocatee Welcome Center in Ponte Vedra, Fla., will benefit CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, a national foundation committed to ending childhood cancer through research, resources, and education.

“No mother should hear that her child has cancer. We support Superheroes Unite! because all children deserve a cure,” Melissa says. “I hope that with all the research, we can finally have a cure for our precious kids.”

To register, sign up as a volunteer, or to learn more about Jacksonville Superheroes Unite! and other CureSearch programs, visit www.curesearchsuperheroes.org/Jacksonville.


CureSearch for Children’s Cancer

CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, a national nonprofit organization based in Bethesda, Md., works to end childhood cancer by driving targeted and innovative research with measurable results in an accelerated time frame. CureSearch is building a $10 million research pipeline to aggressively drive pediatric research grants and clinical trials that have a higher chance of becoming cures for children’s cancer without the toxic side effects that plague current treatment options.

For more information, visit curesearch.org or curesearchsuperheroes.org, follow CureSearch on Twitter @curesearch or join the conversation on Facebook at www.facebook.com/curesearch.

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