2020 Honored Patient: Lucas

For Spencer and Hannah of Sauk Rapids, Minn., the way their son’s pediatric cancer journey unfolded was a shock to them, but all too familiar to the families who have battled ahead of them. A seemingly innocent development suddenly turned serious. 

Their young son, Lucas (now 5), formed a lump on his neck last summer. His primary care provider noticed his enlarged tonsils and recommended they be removed. Later, a call from Lucas’ ENT informed them that his tissue, analyzed at Mayo, indicated cancer. Lucas’ diagnosis was DLBCL-Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma, also known as Non-Hodgkin's B-Cell Lymphoma. 

Lucas has had four rounds of chemo that required him to stay in the hospital for a week at a time. He will have scans for the next two years before remission is declared, and then check-ins for the next 10 years. 

While Lucas is now healthy and excited to be starting kindergarten at Pleasantview Elementary this fall, his journey to health has not been easy.

“In October of 2019, we almost lost Lucas to an infection that hospitalized him for over three weeks and at least 10 days were in PICU,” Spencer said. “Typhlitis and Clostridium usually culminate in a fatal outcome. So many teams were involved - surgery, infectious disease, hematology/oncology, pain management, dietitians, physical therapy, occupational therapy and dozens of nurses and volunteers. We are indebted to all those who helped save our boy during this time. Words will never fully express how thankful we are for these angels in scrubs.”

When Lucas’ scans came back looking like those of a healthy individual who has never been diagnosed with cancer, Hannah remembered the words of Dr. Nathan Gossai when he went over Lucas’ PET scan results with them. 

“This is a big deal,” Dr. Gossai said. “Lucas is a fighter. He has fought off things that others would not have been able to and he has done it like it was no big deal. I want you two to appreciate this and it may take a while to do so. There is no evidence of cancer left in Lucas' body.”  

Today, Lucas remains healthy and happy. He enjoys going to the splash pads, road tripping with his family and playing with his brother, Garrett. He likes to tinker and find out how things work in the world around him. Always exploring, Lucas is very methodical and uses logic and experimentation to get answers to his questions.  

“Lucas has shown us what real strength looks like,” Spencer said. “We know that our lives will never go back to how they were. Perspectives change and that is ok. Some things increase in value, while others seem petty. The journey has been the hardest thing we have endured, but we made it through it with our family.” 

A healthy perspective to match their son’s newfound physical health.

December 18, 2018


Pine Tree Apple Classic Fund gives $260,000 to Children’s Minnesota for Childhood Cancer Research


Each August, over 110 of the area’s top men’s and women’s tennis players take to the courts at Life Time in White Bear Lake, Minnesota to participate in the Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic (PTATC), an annual, mixed-doubles tennis tournament that raises funds for childhood cancer research at Children’s Minnesota.

On Thursday, December 13, 2018, the Pine Tree Apple Classic Fund (PTACF) Board presented Children’s Minnesota staff with a check for $260,000 from funds raised at this year’s PTATC.  “In this 33rd year of the PTATC and first operating as our own non-profit organization, we’re thrilled to make this contribution to Children’s Minnesota on behalf of our PTATC 2018 players, sponsors and donors,” said Kevin Werwie, PTACF President.  “This is the second largest fundraising year in our event’s history.”


Funds raised by the PTATC support research to find better ways to treat children with cancer and to keep them active and strong during and after their treatment.

Dr. Kris Ann Schultz, Medical Research Representative at Children’s Minnesota explained, “Children's cancer research isn't only what happens in the lab.  Real advances happen when we all pull together-- tennis players, sponsors, donors, researchers, coordinators, children and their families.  When we all work together, we really can improve outcomes for kids with cancer.  Pine Tree is a wonderful example of that-- so many advances made possible by this inspiring group,” 


Since its inception in 1986, the PTATC has raised over $5.5 million for cancer research at Children’s Minnesota.

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Pine Tree Apple Classic Fund is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Our tax identification number is 82-4314989.

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