David Dingman-Grover decided Frankenstein would be a good name for his tumor.
The 9-year-old figured if he could get over being scared of a monster, he could get over being scared of this thing at the base of his skull.
“I conquered my fears,” David said by telephone.
David is determined that Frank isn’t going to beat him. To phrase it like his parents do, “Frank Must Die.”
They even put those three words on a bumper sticker that they’re selling on eBay to help pay David’s medical bills.
They say if somebody would pay $28,000 for a grilled cheese sandwich thought to bear the image of the Virgin Mary, somebody might pay big money to help their son.
“It just spiraled out of control — it’s been incredible,” said David’s mother, Tiffini Dingman-Grover. “If it can raise pediatric cancer awareness, oh my gosh, how incredible would that be?”
By early Saturday, the online auction site had received 33 bids for the “Frank Must Die” bumper sticker. The highest was for $6,000.
Grapefruit-sized malignant tumor
David was diagnosed in May 2003 with a grapefruit-sized malignant tumor called a rhabdomyosarcoma. The size and location of the tumor — most are in the limbs — made it impossible for doctors to take out, according to his mother in her ad on eBay.
Now, David needs a highly specialized biopsy to determine whether the tumor is still cancerous or if it has been reduced to scar tissue, his mother and doctor said.
Because David’s carotid artery runs through the tumor, the biopsy is extremely risky. One way to perform the biopsy would require doctors to actually remove David’s face to get to the tumor. The very thought set his mother off on a search for a less extreme biopsy method. She eventually discovered specialists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles who can get to the tumor by going through David’s nose.
“It’s a very specialized thing within pediatric neurosurgery,” said David’s oncologist, Dr. Jay Greenberg. “There’s only like five guys around the country comfortable doing this.”
The family must pay 20 percent of the surgery bill, which also requires a $1,500 fee paid in advance, said Dingman-Grover, who does not yet know exactly how much the procedure will cost. Insurance has covered most of the $1 million in treatment expenses, but the family still shells out about $200,000 a year to cover their share of the medical bills, she said.
The family’s income took a hit when Dingman-Grover cut back her hours at work to stay home with David. The local church donated money and she began auctioning personal items on eBay to help supplement the funds.
EBay closed the original auction Wednesday, citing numerous rules violations. Spokesman Hani Durzy said auctioneers are not allowed to advertise that money for their items will go toward a cause. The family amended the ad and had a new version up and running the same day.
Dingman-Grover said she hopes the ad will help raise public awareness of pediatric cancer and show people what an incredible person her son is.
“I don’t want people to pity David because cancer is not who he is — it is just something he has,” she said.
David’s journey has been difficult. Within two weeks of his diagnosis, he lost the ability to walk, eat and see. Radiation left him with brain damage. His weight plummeted.
After multiple rounds of chemotherapy, his condition has improved. He’s gaining weight, his tumor has shrunk to the size of a peach pit and he can walk and see again.
As his mother put it in her eBay ad: “He has the most positive attitude and never stops fighting no matter what it takes.”