By Amanda Guerra


DALLAS (CBSDFW) – While most families will be heading to the lake or hanging out with friends this Memorial Day weekend, it is a tough one for the Pampel family in the Lakewood neighborhood of Dallas.

It was in May of last year Maude Pampel and her husband, Tony, realized something was very wrong with their 3-year-old son, Sam.

After several trips to the doctor, Sam was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a very rare form of cancer that occurs mainly in children under the age of 5 and attacks developing nerve cells.

“You don’t know what to do in that moment. You never think it’s going to happen to you and your family. And the rush of emotions and thoughts of what does this mean, what does this mean for him, it’s hard,” said Maude Pampel.

For the next several months, Sam went through eight rounds of chemotherapy and at one point, things seemed to be going well. Very well.

“We came to a point where the doctors couldn’t really see the signs of the cancer any more,” said Pampel. “Although he was still taking medicine for it, his hair started growing back, he was able to go back to school, which was really great.”

But suddenly Sam, now 4, started to have headaches.

“As a parent you’re like okay, maybe he’s not drinking enough water. You try to think of all the things that could be going on. And they continued and then they got so severe I think my husband and I both knew in our gut something is wrong.”

In March of this year, doctors told the Pampel’s the cancer was back.

“That’s kind of one of the cruel things about Neuroblastoma, it can hide and be in places were you can see it.”

The family is now treating Sam’s diagnosis as a high-risk form of Neuroblastoma, which means more intense treatments and medicine and therefore harsher side effects.

“And it gets hard and down the road it will continue to get a little bit harder, but our hope is it’s getting rid of the cancer in his little body too,” said Pampel.

“We are just holding on to this is going to make it go away.”

Pampel says some of the biggest support for her family, including 8-year-old daughter, Emmie and Sam has come from her Lakewood neighbors, who have rallied together to raise money, cook food and provide whatever help possible for her family.

This Friday at least 100 people are expected for a crawfish boil in Lakewood to raise money and spirits for the Pampel family.

“It just makes me really appreciate everyone around us. It really makes me remember, you never know what that person sitting next to you has going on in their life, driving by

who’s. It’s so important to show compassion for everyone around you because you don’t know what they’re going through. And that’s what everyone has done for us.”

If you would like to help the Pampel family, please email friend Molly Heckendorn here: Mollyheckendorn@gmail.com.