Dennis Austin Smith of Salem was first diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a form a brain cancer, in August 2001 at the age of 8. After more than a year of treatment which included two surgeries, radiation therapy and chemotherapy at Arkansas Children's Hospital, an MRI showed he was cancer free.
Follow up scans in the fall of 2003 revealed that the cancer had returned in a different area of the brain, where operating was not an option. Smith began chemotherapy treatment again in January 2004. This round of chemo made him very ill, requiring him to be hospitalized for 14 days. He has had four rounds of chemo since January with each treatment making him sicker than the last.
This May, Smith, who is now 11, will undergo surgery to harvest his own bone marrow, preparing him for megachemo, which will wipe out his blood cells and remaining bone marrow. They will then put back the harvested bone marrow so it will have a clear base from which to restart his system. This megachemo will likely require him to remain hospitalized for a month or more.
Friends of Dennis Smith and family have organized a benefit concert in his honor at Ozarka College in Melbourne. The concert will be May 8 at 6:30 p.m. Performers include Bo Riddle, Tanesha Jones and the band Kingsdown. Tickets are $6, with all proceeds given to the Smith family to help with medical expenses. Donations will also be accepted at the concert.