When hope pays off: Local boy thriving after stem-cell therapy | AspenTimes.com

When hope pays off: Local boy thriving after stem-cell therapy

ASPEN – For Stephanie Krolick and Josh Burnaman, hope is a double-edged sword. As Burnaman wrote on the family’s blog: “Unless you have had a special needs child, you will never understand how completely devastating hope can be. You want to hope, you need to hope, but you have to accept.”

Burnaman was writing about his and Krolick’s son Cash, who was born with a unique, unnamed chromosomal disorder for which there is no known cure. It affects him both physically and developmentally; until just recently, Cash could take only a few unassisted steps and had mastered just a few signs, as he cannot speak.

On a recent morning in his preschool classroom, though, it was obvious things have changed. Cash can walk independently. He is constantly learning new signs. He is trying to mimic speech. He can color with a crayon, and he can use a spoon and fork.

“The walking is obvious – and wonderful. Some of the other changes are more subtle, but they are also significant,” said Krolick. “He is more engaged, and he is really starting to process things.

“It is everything we hoped for, and more.”

The source of Krolick’s hope – and the reason for the marked improvements in Cash’s development, she believes – is stem-cell therapy.

In December, Cash began two months of stem-call therapy at Dr. Geeta Schroff’s clinic in New Delhi. It is the same clinic where locals Amanda Boxtel and Lea Potts received stem-cell therapy and saw positive results.

“The clinic expects the therapy to work; they tell you it will,” said Krolick. “But we didn’t go into this expecting miracles.”

In fact, Krolick and Burnaman’s hope for their son was simply to improve his quality of life.

“This wasn’t about fixing Cash; he doesn’t need to be fixed,” she said. “It was about giving Cash the chance to become the best person he can be.”

It seems that goal is in reach. And with follow-up stem-cell treatments – Krolick says they will likely return to India in the fall – the family might need to set new goals.

“I would say it was a success; it worked,” said Krolick. “But that doesn’t mean he’s going to look like every other 5-year-old kid. He is not like every other kid. But it is an exciting time to be around Cash right now.”

It is also a time where hope is an easier word to use.

“Our hope was rewarded,” said Krolick, continuing on to thank the Aspen community for their support – financially and emotionally. “And I would say that the hope of everyone who has been part of this journey was rewarded.”

To read more about Cash’s experience in India and to continue following Cash’s story at http://www.changeforcash.blogspot.com.

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com