Freddie inspires progress, and hope, for neuroblastoma research

Freddie Page has always been a happy little boy. He loves playing with trucks and buses, he loves his family—and his family loves him dearly.

In June 2020, the Page Family received devastating news. At just 18 months old, Freddie had a tumor that turned out to be stage IV neuroblastoma, and he would need to undergo months of treatment at Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic.

Thankfully, Freddie is doing well now, and his family reports that he is happy and back to playing with buses and trucks. But for the Pages, the work is not over—the family established the Freddie Fund to support neuroblastoma research at Dana-Farber, wanting to ensure better outcomes for the next family facing this disease.

Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer in which tumor cells grow in immature nerve cells called neuroblasts, and therefore affects infants and young children—most commonly children under the age of 5. As the Pages learned, approximately 10 percent of children with high-risk neuroblastoma do not respond to initial treatment, and 40-50 percent will experience relapse.

“We wanted to make sure that we could help improve the chances for kids everywhere to get treatment,” says Katherine Page, Freddie’s mother. “With the success rate of other types of cancers, the potential is there. It’s a case of time and funding. We’re very hopeful that they’ll get there for neuroblastoma as well.”

Suzanne Shusterman, M.D.

Thanks to advances in treatment, greater numbers of children with neuroblastoma are living longer than ever before. The Freddie Fund, managed under the direction of Suzanne Shusterman, MD, an international expert in neuroblastoma and one of Freddie’s doctors at Dana-Farber, will further these advances by supporting an innovative clinical trial being led by Susanne Baumeister, MD, for patients with relapsed or treatment-resistant neuroblastoma. Shusterman, Baumeister, and their colleagues discovered that the ALK protein is expressed on a large number of neuroblastomas—which makes ALK a promising target for treatment.

“Thanks to support from the Freddie Fund, we are ready to test a new CAR T-cell therapy that specifically targets ALK,” said Shusterman. “CAR T-cell therapy has shown tremendous promise in treating other forms of cancer, and we are thrilled to be moving forward on an approach that could benefit so many of our youngest patients facing this disease.”

“This is all for the next family, the next kid, the next community going through this. We want them that much closer to a positive outcome,” said Sam Page, Freddie’s father.