Gavin Rodden, age 8, fights a rare childhood cancer that began in his prostate

Gavin Rodden, age 8, has a rare muscle cancer. Photo credit: KLTV.Eight-year-old Gavin Rodden was diagnosed recently with a rare childhood cancer, which began in his prostate.

Rhabdomyosarcoma (Rhab-do-my-o-sarcoma) is an aggressive form of cancer that starts in a muscle cell and may spread quite rapidly. In Gavin's case the cancer has already spread from the prostate to his lungs. Possible treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and options in clinical trials.

This little boy is facing challenges that any man might find overwhelming.

We feel some guys might like to add some big brother outreach to back up the support Gavin is already receiving from East Texans.

Part of historic downtown Henderson. Photo by Chris Litherland.

Gavin's family including his twin brother moved only a few weeks ago to live in Henderson, Texas, a small town of 11,000. Gavin's mother Shannon works as a counselor at a vocational training and correctional facility there.

Jennifer Love, assistant warden at Shannon's workplace, Management & Training Corp, helped set up a medical fund for Gavin. MTC helped the town organize a fundraiser featuring $5 lunches. People from across East Texas came, contributing several thousand dollars toward costs of Gavin's ongoing treatments.

Local station KLTV reported (video below) that $7,000 has been raised. Lorri Little, who broke this story on September 24 in Henderson Daily News, said in a phone call Monday that the total had now reached $12,000. Also on Monday Matthew Prosser wrote a follow-up article.

Gavin Rodden fundraiser, Henderson, East Texas, KLTV

We decided to spread the word after Tony Crispino, a 45 year-old survivor of aggressive prostate cancer living and working in Nevada and a member of The Caring Bridge; Kathy Meade of Virginia Prostate Cancer Coalition; Wolfram Blattner of NTX Prostate Cancer Coalition , and others on the Prostate Problems Mailing List (PPML) discussed Gavin's situation.

PPML, a non-profit survivor-run list owned by, is barred from fund-raising.

These are hard times for virtually everyone battling the costs of health care as well as cancer.

As I write this, a friend who lost his health insurance when his advanced prostate cancer made it impossible for him to work has been compelled to declare bankruptcy and will soon lose his house and his car.

No one here expects anyone to donate to another patient's cause at cost to their own medical needs.

But Rhabdo is an extremely rare childhood cancer. Far fewer resources are made available for Rhabdo research than for major adult cancers including prostate cancer.

If you -- as a prostate cancer survivor, family member or prostate cancer medical specialist -- want and are able to contribute, make a check in any amount payable to Gavin Rodden Medical Fund and mail to:
Citizens' National Bank
PO Box 1009
TX 75653-1009

To validate the address and the fund you may contact the bank from this page:

Click the image below to watch KLTV video of the fund-raiser:

Link to KLTV video of Gavin's fundraiser


Rhabdomyosarcoma is a cancer that forms in the soft tissues in a type of muscle called striated muscle. Rhabdomyosarcoma can occur anywhere in the body. Usually the primary tumor appears in one of these four areas the body:

  • head and neck; around the eyes -- 35-40%
  • genitourinary tract -- 20%
  • extremities -- 15-20%
  • trunk (chest and lungs) -- 10-15%

Childhood Rhabdomyosarcoma National Cancer Institute

Childhood Rhabdomyosarcoma Treatment (PDQ®)

Ped-Onc resource center at

RHABDO KIDS mailing list at
Parents/caregivers of children with rhabdomyosarcoma

Parents of children on/off treatment for all types of cancers

Ped-ONC Survivors
Parents of children who are off-treatment for childhood cancer.

Chris Luca Trust (UK) "What is Rhabdomyosarcoma?"

"There are several types of Sarcoma that are found in children and young adults. The cancer cells must be looked at under a microscope to tell which type of sarcoma it is. It accounts for approximately 3.5% of the cases of cancer among young children 0 to 14 years, and 2% of the cases among adolescents and young adults 15 to 19 years of age. It is a curable disease in the majority of children who receive optimal therapy with more than surviving 5 years after diagnosis."

Sarcoma Alliance: Children With Sarcoma

Rare Cancer Alliance Support

Patients, Survivors, & Caregivers share support; treatment, physician, & facility information; and personal experiences (not all child-specific).