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From left, Ben Frauenholtz, 5, his father, Todd, mother, Kerry, and sister, Greta, 3, enjoy a cruise to the Madeline Islands. Submitted Photo
From left, Ben Frauenholtz, 5, his father, Todd, mother, Kerry, and sister, Greta, 3, enjoy a cruise to the Madeline Islands. Submitted Photo

Father, son to lead as cancer survivors

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Leading the survivors' lap of the 2011 Beltrami County Relay For Life will be Todd Frauenholtz and his 5-year-old son, Ben.

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life will be held from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 23, at the Sanford Center.

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Father and son are both leukemia survivors, although their forms of the disease were unrelated.

Todd and his wife, Kerry, also have a 3-year-old daughter, Greta. Ben will start kindergarten at St. Philip's School in September.

Todd, 41, was diagnosed when he was 17. His symptoms included exhaustion. His doctor thought he must have mononucleosis, something he would soon get over. He didn't, and many blood transfusions, an unsuccessful search for a bone marrow donor and months of chemotherapy followed. Todd, a math professor at Bemidji State University, has been cancer-free for 24 years.

However, in March, Todd and his wife, Kerry, a nurse, took a belated honeymoon to the Caribbean. He came home with the flu, and because they had been in a tropical area, the doctor decided to test for hepatitis. Todd was infected with the hepatitis C virus, which destroys liver cells. He is in treatment for the disease and said his summer project is to be rid of the virus. His teenage leukemia and hepatitis are connected because one of his transfusions 24 years ago was infected with hepatitis C.

"It had been in there for 24 years," Todd said.

The test for the disease wasn't developed until 1992.

Ben was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago when he was 3.

"I thought he was fine," Todd said. "His mother thought he was pale."

Thinking back, Todd remembered that Ben had bruises on his legs, was tired and had a chronic bloody nose, symptoms the boy's parents didn't worry too much about at the time.

"We went on a tubing trip with some friends, and they said, 'He's the palest kid we've ever seen,'" Todd recalled.

So, Kerry took their son for an exam and the leukemia was diagnosed.

Todd said when he was diagnosed at 17, he surprised the doctor by expressing desire to know what his survival chances were - 5 percent, he was told.

"Having a child have (cancer) is much more frightening, much more painful," Todd said. "In my own, I felt like I had some control."

Because of research funded, in part, by the American Cancer Society, the survival expectancy for Todd's type of leukemia has risen to more than 20 percent, and Ben's is 80 percent.

Todd said he has taken away from the family's experiences with cancer the focus on enjoying life and valuing relationships.

"One of my life lessons, especially with Ben, is hug your kids every day you have them," Todd said.

Saturday's Relay For Life schedule is as follows:

E Opening Ceremony 11 a.m.

E Survivor Ceremony 6 p.m.

E Luminaria Ceremony 8:30 p.m.

E Relay Idol Contest 2-4 p.m.

E Prevention Study-3 4-8 p.m.

E Closing Ceremony 10:30 p.m.

Leading the survivors' lap of the 2011 Beltrami County Relay For Life will be Todd Frauenholtz and his 5-year-old son, Ben.

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life will be held from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 23, at the Sanford Center.

Father and son are both leukemia survivors, although their forms of the disease were unrelated.

Todd and his wife, Kerry, also have a 3-year-old daughter, Greta. Ben will start kindergarten at St. Philip's School in September.

Todd, 41, was diagnosed when he was 17. His symptoms included exhaustion. His doctor thought he must have mononucleosis, something he would soon get over. He didn't, and many blood transfusions, an unsuccessful search for a bone marrow donor and months of chemotherapy followed. Todd, a math professor at Bemidji State University, has been cancer-free for 24 years.

However, in March, Todd and his wife, Kerry, a nurse, took a belated honeymoon to the Caribbean. He came home with the flu, and because they had been in a tropical area, the doctor decided to test for hepatitis. Todd was infected with the hepatitis C virus, which destroys liver cells. He is in treatment for the disease and said his summer project is to be rid of the virus. His teenage leukemia and hepatitis are connected because one of his transfusions 24 years ago was infected with hepatitis C.

"It had been in there for 24 years," Todd said.

The test for the disease wasn't developed until 1992.

Ben was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago when he was 3.

"I thought he was fine," Todd said. "His mother thought he was pale."

Thinking back, Todd remembered that Ben had bruises on his legs, was tired and had a chronic bloody nose, symptoms the boy's parents didn't worry too much about at the time.

"We went on a tubing trip with some friends, and they said, 'He's the palest kid we've ever seen,'" Todd recalled.

So, Kerry took their son for an exam and the leukemia was diagnosed.

Todd said when he was diagnosed at 17, he surprised the doctor by expressing desire to know what his survival chances were - 5 percent, he was told.

"Having a child have (cancer) is much more frightening, much more painful," Todd said. "In my own, I felt like I had some control."

Because of research funded, in part, by the American Cancer Society, the survival expectancy for Todd's type of leukemia has risen to more than 20 percent, and Ben's is 80 percent.

Todd said he has taken away from the family's experiences with cancer the focus on enjoying life and valuing relationships.

"One of my life lessons, especially with Ben, is hug your kids every day you have them," Todd said.

Saturday's Relay For Life schedule is as follows:

- Opening Ceremony 11 a.m.

- Survivor Ceremony 6 p.m.

- Luminaria Ceremony 8:30 p.m.

- Relay Idol Contest 2-4 p.m.

- Prevention Study-3 4-8 p.m.

- Closing Ceremony 10:30 p.m.

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