Luke Stephen Ungerer turned 3 on February 7, 2015 and every day he brought energy and smiles and sunshine with him wherever he went!
Luke was a happy and fun-loving little boy who loved playing with his best buddy, his little brother, Will and being with his family. Luke loved to play trucks, to pretend, to run, climb and jump! He was so creative and full of energy - in perpetual motion, playing firetrucks, singing and dancing and playing his guitar, telling stories, reading, playing construction site and having fun. Luke was known for his sweet, sweet disposition, his physicality, coordination and energy, his fun, enthusiastic spirit, adorable attitude and being such a good little boy! Luke lived every single second of his life from the very moment that the sun rose (or usually before) until he could hardly stay awake at the end of the day..vivaciously, energetically, zestfully - literally devouring this world and taking it all in...the very smallest things and the very biggest things...not wasting a minute and being present every single one of those. Seeing everything as a miracle and something to be touched, savored, run over, run around, climbed on and just, frankly, loved. Luke means light and that is surely what he brought to the world his whole life - even when he wasn't feeling well.
Completely out of the clear blue sky - and oh my goodness that sky was blue!!! - he had been so healthy! - out of nowhere, Luke began having seizures in March 2015. On June 4, an additional MRI revealed that Luke had a tumor in his brain and the tumor had also spread down his spine. On June 12, he underwent an 11 hour brain surgery at Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis. Luke's tumor was diagnosed as a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) with PNET components. On July 1, Luke began proton radiation treatment at the Chicago Proton Center. 32 days of treatment, which meant 32 days of general anesthesia, with the highest and most desperate hopes that this would eradicate the disease. Thankfully, we were able to live in the Ronald McDonald House during this time and had so much love and support from family and friends - and absolute daily inspiration and unwavering example of endurance, positivity, love, strength and courage in our sweet, little Luke.
After a brief "break" in September, Luke endured two rounds of intense chemotherapy in October and November back at Riley. In early December, an MRI indicated that there was additional tumor growth in other areas of his brain (although the proton radiation had positively impacted the initial areas). We were all able to absolutely shower Luke with love, love, love, love - all his life - and he was as happy as possible - he ate pretty much exclusively homemade chocolate chip cookies and milk his last few weeks, got to ride his first rollercoaster and meet Mr. Incredible and Mickey Mouse and he smiled a lot - we all lived in the moment, minute to minute, as much as possible being thankful for every single even remotely happy minute.
So, so, so sadly our sweet Luke passed away peacefully Thursday, January 14, 2016, after such a courageous battle. He was outside in the sun being held by his Mama and Daddy, surrounded by family. Our son was so, so, so loved and will always be with us. We will love him always and forever and will miss him all the time. We are just so, so, so proud of him.
Be inspired by Luke's life. Honor Luke by brightening someone else's day like he always did ours. Be kind to one another and appreciate each and every day. We would spend these horrible months filled with fear, incredible sadness, uncertainty, sickness and so much crying and confusion because we had so many wonderful, perfect, surreal, beautiful, silly, funny, interesting and happy, happy, happy times with Luke and because of Luke.
Our Luke brought so much light, energy and vitality with him every single day - so sweet and kind and funny and fun! The love, smiles and positivity he put out there are absolutely inspirational - please, please let the positive ripples that you can acquire from any of this spread far and wide in ways that we can't imagine. We truly hope that his legacy will live on in many, many positive ways...
We are desperate to do anything that we can to help prevent this outcome from happening to any other child and family. Luke had an extremely rare disease for his age and he fought so hard and endured so much. We hope that funding from this can greatly contribute to truly helping so many children and families in the future; we hope that this can be life impacting for so many of these brave, tough, amazing children who have to endure so much.
Please support us with a donation to the St. Baldrick's Foundation. This volunteer-driven charity funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any organization except the U.S. government. Your gift will give hope to infants, children, teens and young adults fighting childhood cancers.
So when I ask for your support, I'm really asking you to support these kids.
Thank you for your consideration and any and all kindness that you share every single day! #LukesArmy #lovefaithfamily
Donations made to the Luke's Army Pediatric Research Fund have funded a St. Baldrick's International Scholar grant for Jehad Almaliti Ph.D. and a 3-year St. Baldrick's Fellow Grant for Adam Green M. D.
The St. Baldrick's Foundation is guided by a Scientific Advisory Committee, comprised of leading experts in the childhood cancer community, to ensure that every dollar makes the greatest impact for kids with cancer.
These people make us smile — they’re the doers and money-raisers on behalf of the Luke's Army Pediatric Cancer Research Fund. They’re shaving their heads, hosting events, starting fundraisers and more to make childhood cancer research possible.
Start your own St. Baldrick’s head-shaving event to raise money on behalf of our Hero Fund! You’ll be paired with a staff member who will walk you through every step of the process, and you’ll have fun knowing you’re doing a great thing for kids with cancer.
Register to shave your head and raise money for our Hero Fund at any St. Baldrick’s event happening around the world! Not finding an event near you? Register as a virtual shavee and shave your head anytime, anywhere.