MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – C.J. Himmel is like any other 2-year-old in so many ways.
“He is probably the most happy child I’ve ever come in contact with,” C.J.’s mother Brittany Sultzaberger said.
So after his second birthday, when C.J. started acting differently, his parents worried.
“He was just getting sick a lot, off balance, not really himself,” Sultzaberger said.
Trips back and forth to the hospital came with no answers, while C.J.’s health worsened to fainting and seizures.
“We took him back for them to end up doing an MRI, and they found a mass on his brain.”
They were told their son, the happiest boy they know, had a rare brain cancer, pineoblastoma. Very few are diagnosed, and even fewer survive.
“It turned our world upside down completely,” Sultzaberger said.
Eleven surgeries and two rounds of chemotherapy later, the family continues to fight both in and out of the hospital.
“My job is still holding my spot for me,” his mother said, “but his job had to let him go because we were back and forth from the hospital so much and him having to leave work.”
Their friend, Crissy Beck, heard the story.
“My heart just broke for them and I just wanted to help them out,” Beck said.
Beck organized a bake sale at Cumberland Valley High School’s football game.
“People from church, friends of Craig’s, all kinds of people, people I don’t even know are donating,” she said.
In the saddest story a family can imagine, the community hopes for that happy ending.
“You just have to have hope throughout the whole thing,” Craig Himmel, CJ’s father, said. “If you don’t have hope, he needs you more.”
CJ continues his battle at Penn State Children’s Hospital with more chemotherapy treatments in two weeks.
The family has a GoFundMe page to raise money to help with the costs for medical treatment and personal necessities as they travel to and from the hospital on a regular basis.
Community members will be selling baked goods at Cumberland Valley’s Oct. 28 and Nov. 4 football games.