SPOKANE, Wash – Gabe Quaschnick looks like any other 12-year-old boy; he's about to be in middle school and is growing up with a little sister.
But he almost didn't grow up at all.
"My husband was tickling my son on his tummy and found something hard," his mother Jen Quaschnick told KHQ's Kelsey Watts.
That was back in 2004, when Gabe was just 3 years old. That something hard was a malignant tumor completely wrapped around his little kidney.
"You're devastated," she recalled. "There are no words, there's just emotion."
Doctors said he wouldn't live without treatment – and only had an 18% chance of surviving the treatment itself.
But Gabe – and his family – are fighters.
"We weren't willing to resign to the fact that our child was going to die," Jen said. "They told us to prepare for funeral arrangements."
But instead, they got a second opinion. The next day, Gabe underwent surgery and a 5-pound tumor was removed along with his right kidney. The next 11 months were a series of chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
But in the biggest fight of his life – and despite all odds – Gabe won.
"He's been declared cancer free from this particular form of cancer," she added.
But his whole fight may not be over. Because of all the toxins and chemicals pumped into his body to fight cancer, Gabe is now at a higher risk for developing other forms of cancer later in life.
"That's where I have a problem," she said. "We need more research to find a better cure that doesn't diminish the quality of life."
That's where a historic cancer prevention study comes in. Called CPS-3, it's a nationwide study that will be open to people in the greater Spokane area. To qualify, you must be between 30 and 65, never diagnosed with cancer, and be willing to get a blood draw and answer a health survey every few years. Rather than research a particular form of cancer, the study looks to collect overwhelming amounts of data that can shed light on trends, causes, treatments – and hopefully, cancer prevention.
"What they want to do is find out some of the root causes, whether it be breast cancer, colon, prostate, it doesn't matter," said Traci Baker, the co-lead volunteer chair for CPS-3 at the American Cancer Society office in Spokane. "We can have information in as little as five years, rather than waiting 10, 20, 30 years."
It's a cause that hits close to home for her as well. A nine-year breast cancer survivor, Baker was told she could not have any more children. But two years later, she proved the doctors wrong and is still healthy today.
"She's my miracle girl," Baker said, of her 7-year-old daughter Mykla.
"My personal hope is that we'll be able to prevent this disease in the future, that it will be something of the past like polio that people used to get," Quaschnick added. "I don't want it to be a major health crisis."
1,000 people are needed in the greater Spokane area and the study will be done locally September 17th-21st at the central, north and Spokane Valley YMCA locations.
To learn more or register, visit: www.cps3spokane.org.