Bridgewater Boy Bouncing Back

By Rebecca Hyman, Wicked Local Hanson

As men across New England were growing beards to show support for the Red Sox, Tom Struzik of Bridgewater shaved his head to show support for his 11-year-old son Benjamin.

“We feel really lucky. His doctors said it’s not a type of cancer that tends to come back and kids do particularly well. He’s bouncing right back,” said Benjamin’s mom, Kristen Struzik, a special education teacher in Franklin.

Benjamin, a sixth grader at Williams Intermediate School, was diagnosed in July with Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Kristen and Benjamin were on hand to receive a gift of $5,000 at the Bridgewater Police Station from the Cops for Kids with Cancer program recently.

“They have been wonderful. It’s such an amazing program,” she said.

The program makes gifts directly to families who have children with cancer to help relieve some of the financial stress such a diagnosis can cause through medical bills, missed work and other issues, said Bob Faherty, a retired Boston police superintendent, who runs the non-profit program.

“These are families going through a terrible time worried about their child and at the same time they shouldn’t have to worry about their financial situation,” Faherty said.

Kristen said Benjamin’s cancer was caught early. The first indication something was wrong was when Benjamin began experiencing abdominal pain in July.

At first, his doctors suspected appendicitis, but an ultrasound and MRI revealed a mass.

Fortunately, it was small and contained, his mom said. Benjamin had surgery and two grueling rounds of chemotherapy and has an excellent prognosis, she said.

They are waiting for the results of a scan in November to confirm he is cancer free and are buoyed by assurances from Benjamin’s doctors this type of cancer is very treatable, Kristen said.

Benjamin only missed a few weeks of school and is back to playing soccer again, his mom said.

She and her husband Tom, who does IT work out of their home, were by Benjamin’s side for his hospitalizations and many doctors visits. And Benjamin’s two little sisters have done a great job of taking care of their big brother as well, she said.

“He’s a pretty happy kid,” his mother said.

Kristen Struzik said she was very grateful for the assistance from Cops for Kids with Cancer. Her family has been using the gift to help pay medical bills. Though they have insurance, their co-pays and deductibles have come to several thousand dollars, she said.

Faherty said since 2008, the program has made more than 250 donations and given out more than $1,250,000, all donated through fundraisers such as golf tournaments, motorcycle rallies and haunted houses. For more information go to www.copsforkidswithcancer.org.

Kristen said Benjamin’s diagnosis was a shock but she’s very grateful for the wonderful care he’s received and how well he’s doing.

“I look at life much differently now. It brings to the forefront you never know what’s going to happen. You should make time for friends and family and do the things you enjoy,” she said.