17 days from diagnosis to death: 5-year-old loses life to rare, aggressive form of cancer

DENVER, Colo.  — It took just 17 days for a perfectly healthy little boy to go from showing the first symptoms of illness, to his life being taken by an aggressive and rare form of cancer.

Luke Morin was just 5 years old when he died.

“Our boy was stolen from us,” said Jill Morin, Luke’s mother.

Luke was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a form of brain tumor found in children. It’s found in about 20 kids a year. There is no cure and no form of treatment available.

“It’s the only pediatric cancer where we basically have zero percent survival,” said Dr. Rajeev Vibhakar, a researcher in the field.

The cancer is so aggressive and so fast spreading, that in Luke’s case, it only took 17 days from diagnosis to death.

“My husband had the best analogy for it which was: DIPG was the drunk driver that killed our son. I say, ‘DIPG messed with the wrong family,’” said Jill Morin.

The Morin family was blindsided by what happened, but over time, they decided to dedicate their time and energy to make a positive change. Since DIPG is so rare, there isn’t much research into how to stop it, and even less funding to work toward a cure.

“I do not want to see these families go through it. I don’t want these kids to go through it,” said Jill Morin.

Working with Luke’s school, she started planning a 5K run/walk in his memory. The logical place to hold it was the place the family spent so much of their time — Central Park in Stapleton, Colorado.

“All of the proceeds from this race will go directly to Children’s Hospital to fund DIPG research,” said Jill Morin.

“I can’t quantify the impact of those dollars on what we’re doing. I believe we’re going to find some significant changes with how we treat patients with DIPG,” said Dr. Vibhakar.