Waukesha County family makes it their mission to help improve childhood cancer treatments
Stephanie Graham, Mike Jacobs
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
NASHOTAH - Christopher Schraufnagel was an inquisitive boy.
His mom Lisa recalls, "Curious about everything. We'd be in a public restroom, and he'd be laying on the floor wondering how the plumbing in a sink worked."
He loved playing with his sisters. His little sister Megan says, "I'm happy that he lived with us, cuz he was the awesomest brother I ever had."
But it was during a trip to Disney World in 2011, that his parents noticed something wasn't right.
"He started to limp, you know, walk a little funny," Lisa says.
Shortly after they returned home, doctors at Children's Hospital told them the unthinkable.
"He had a tumor, growth right around the stem of his brain," Christopher's dad Pete remembers.
It was brain cancer. Lisa and Pete watched their lively little boy deteriorate before their eyes.
"He could no longer walk, his vocal chords got paralyzed so he needed a feeding tube. He was wheelchair-bound," Lisa explains.
Even worse: They knew the harsh treatments could have life-long side effects.
"Especially because for Christopher, he loved to learn, and needing the full brain radiation I was so concerned about brain processing," Lisa says.
But he complained, and the family learned to adjust. Pete and Lisa balanced their time between the hospital and being home with the girls.
"We wanted them to have their school, and have their friends, and have one of us always with them at home, so their life could be as normal as it possibly could," Pete explains.
After months of treatment, Christopher seemed to be on the road to recovery. Then--some heartbreaking news. He had relapsed.
"Knowing there was nothing out there that was gonna get rid of it, nothing was gonna cure him anymore," Lisa says.
He spent his final days at home, playing games with his family. Pete jokes, "And uh... he didn't win too often in Monopoly cuz I was pretty competitive!"
Christopher found comfort in the thought that he would no longer be in pain. He passed away on June 27th at the age of eight. Lisa recalls him saying, "He's like 'OK, in heaven I'll be perfect."
The family continues to honor Christopher--raising money for the MACC Fund, so other kids don't have to endure the pain Christopher did.
"If someday we could save them from that, and a lifetime of side effects, it would be wonderful," Lisa says.
A little boy, wise beyond his years,w ith a life lesson for us all.
"I mean as adults we complain about everything... Christopher just took everything with a sense of peace and strength. He was just an inspiration, I mean tremendous," Pete says.
The family has raised about $150,000 so far, through 'Team Christopher' during the Trek 100, and other various fundraisers.