Determination and inspirational spirit helps, but family needs a hand

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:48

    WEST MILFORD-Krysten Petrowski is an active 11-year-old with a love of reading, drawing and making jewelry for her friends as well as herself. According to her dad Brian, her greatest love of all is for cats. No matter the size or color Krysten just loves all things feline. While there may be nothing extraordinary in Krysten's list of favorite things, her courageous heart places her in a unique category. Krysten is currently in Hackensack Medical Center fighting a double blow to her health. It is a battle she's winning due, in no small measure, to her determined and inspirational spirit. In January of this year Krysten was diagnosed with medullablastoma, the most common type of pediatric malignant brain tumor. Three days after diagnosis she had surgery to successfully remove the tumor. Unfortunately, that's not the end of the story. Shortly after the surgery, Krysten developed hydrocephalus. She had a shunt placed in her head to release the pressure, and that had the adverse side effect of causing cerebellar mutism. This condition is common amongst patients who have brain surgery and causes an absence of speech in sufferers. As if the development of a brain tumor and resultant complications were not enough to contend with, on Feb. 15 this year Krysten was diagnosed with FAP (familial adenomatous polyposis). FAP is a condition in which the tendency to develop large numbers of a certain type of polyp is inherited. The disease mainly affects the gastrointestinal tract and the major concern in this condition is that some of the polyps will become cancerous. Krysten is currently undergoing radiation treatment and chemotherapy. After those treatments are finished, she is facing more surgery for the FAP. In the meantime, Krysten's condition is improving. Her speech is returning and she wants to zoom around her hospital room in her wheelchair. But the family received a further blow when Krysten's 9-year-old brother Alexander was also diagnosed with FAP. Alexander faces a series of tests to determine his course of treatment. A concern for their children's health is primary in the minds of dad Brian and his wife Christine, however the growing medical bills for the care of Krysten and Alexander is alarming. Brian estimates a running total for medical costs is approximately $100,000 at present with the certainty of rising. With a limit in health care provisions, alongside the day to day costs of keeping a home with two other children as well as Krysten and Alexander, has taken its toll. Petrowski contacted Councilman Carmelo Scangarello who took the task of organizing fund raising events for the family and initiating an idea for the whole town to get involved in helping out the Petrowski family. Residents of the town have the opportunity to show their support to the family and offer whatever financial help they can. Collection jars will appear in town hall and businesses throughout the municipality, with the consent of the family, to help offset the vast medical costs. Business owners can obtain a jar by contacting the town administrator's office on 973-728-2710. Brian Petrowski said, "We really appreciate all everyone is doing." The family is also accepting donations at home, 5 McCormick Road, West Milford, NJ, 07480. Updates on Krysten's condition are available on her web page at