Community support lifts Cory Burke and his family

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Cory Burke and his parents, Jerry and Sue, are growing accustomed to Boston traffic.

The local boy and his parents regularly make the trip to Boston’s Dana Faber Cancer Institute for radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Ever since last spring, when Cory was first diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, the Bristol family has been thrust into a whirlwind of tests, transfusions and treatments.

While the family has endured the rigors of cancer treatment, they’ve also been warmed by the support of family, friends, neighbors and strangers who, through various fund-raisers, established the Cory Burke Fund to help with the mounting expenses.

On Saturday, March 23, a group of Cory’s classmates at Kickemuit Middle School held a 5K run to help raise money for the family. The girls, Shea Quinn, Colleen Killeavy, Meg O’Brien and Mollie Rigby, brought the idea of a road race to their track coach, Brian Beausoleil, who helped organize the event.

“For a first time event, they had a great turnout,” Mr. Beausoleil said.

“We wanted to get 150 runners,” Shea said of the girls’ expected attendance. Instead, 300 people turned out for the 5K run and the 1-mile walk.

Mr. Burke continues to be overwhelmed with the community response.

“You don’t realize,” he said. “The bills keep coming in. $30,000 bill for one week, $8,000 for a PET scan.”

While insurance pays for much of the medical costs, there are costs associated with illness.

“Just the people who are doing this. It’s unbelievable,” Mr. Burke said.

Cory was in good spirits at the road race, walking around with his friends and joking with runners as they crossed the finish line. That wasn’t the case in the recent past when the 12-year-old was undergoing radiation treatments.

“He’d go for two days of treatment, then have a week off. Then he’d get five days of treatment with a week off,” Mr. Burke said. “And he’d have chemo on top of that. He was taking a beating.”

Cory dropped to 97 pounds. When he gained weight to his current 107 ponds, Mr. Burke said that was a “Happy, happy” milestone.

“Before he started radiation he wanted to quit,” Mr. Burke said. “I told him you can’t quit... He’s 12 years old.”

Cory is still undergoing treatment for remaining tumors. He keeps up with his school work with tutors and will miss this season of baseball.

Feeling able, Cory fielded some ground balls with his East Bay Bull Dogs teammates at a recent practice. Each member of the team has the number 12, Cory’s number, stitched on their caps.

“No throwing or hitting though,” Mr. Burke said.

While Cory said he’s doesn’t like all the attention that is poured on him, the family is grateful for the support. Given the progress that Cory has made, they’ll continue to do whatever they can to help their son get through it all.

“You don’t know what’s going through his mind,” Mr. Burke said.

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