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Hoping for a miracle

Zachary Beyer believes in miracles. Better yet, he believes he's going to experience one himself.

Earlier this summer, Beyer, 16, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

"He believes in miracles, and he says he can get one," his aunt Donna Beyer said. That positive attitude "will give him the most life."

In May, Zach started having headaches. They thought it was migraines at first, then doctors thought maybe West Nile, and on down the list of possibilities. Then doctors performed an MRI and spotted something on his brain.

By the end of June, doctors did a brain biopsy, and July 3, the results came back with the devastating news.

Zachary went through radiation five days a week. Today, he went back for another MRI.

"The radiation did shrink it some, but it is an aggressive cancer," she said. "They give him 50 percent -- more like he'd live 6 months, but there's a 50 percent chance he could make it to a year."

Monday, he'll start chemo again in the pill form because it works better for his form of cancer -- anaplastic astrocytoma. He is being treated at the MeritCare Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo. He'll take the pills for one week, then off for three weeks and on again for one week.

They won't know the status of the tumor "until the MRI tomorrow," she said Tuesday afternoon, "if it shows that it's growing, if it's getting larger again or not."

Where the tumor is located -- in the left hindquarter of his brain -- doctors can't do surgery to remove it. The radiation and chemo are just a matter of prolonging his life now.

But Zachary isn't letting his cancer slow him down, His mom, Lisa, gave him the option of attending school this year or not. (His dad, Dale, lives in Frazee.) He chose to continue his studies at the Area Learning Center in Detroit Lakes.

"They are being wonderful with him," she said of the ALC staff and students.

The tumor has affected Zachary's ability to write and read, and his memory, but his classmates are helping him out.

"They are just being really good on saying, 'well, we'll grade on what he gets done, not what can't do,'" Beyer said of the school.

To help defray medical and treatment costs, a benefit for Zachary is being held Saturday at the Shorewood Pub. It begins at 1 p.m. with lunch and a silent auction. There will be two bands -- Fat Cats and Push -- playing throughout the night until 2 in the morning.

Shorewood Pub also is giving one night free camping "so people please don't drink and drive."

For those unable to make it to the benefit Saturday, there is also an account set up at Wells Fargo under Zachary's name.

Zachary, who loves old cars, racing bike and the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion, "is basically a really good kid," his aunt said. "And he keeps saying he's going to beat it. That's what we've all been praying for, and he truly believes in miracles and he says he's gonna get one."