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Round Rock boy fights rare auto immune disease

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He's strong and strong willed. Flexing his muscles, 2-year-old Cole Dennis is a self-described big boy.

In 2011, when he was just 15 months old, Cole had to start fighting for his life like a grown up. A fever quickly became something more serious. Within days, Cole's doctors at Dell Children's Medical Center had discovered a tumor-triggered disease.

He went into surgery and started chemotherapy.  His tumor triggered a rare auto-immune disease called Opsoclonus-Myoclonus Syndrome or OMS.

"The body sees the tumor and wants to fight it but the tumor is so similar to the brain so the body can't distinguish the two," explained Christy Dennis about her son's condition.

To help Cole grow and prevent brain damage his team at Dell Children's recommended therapy. When it started he couldn't walk or talk.

"He's made a lot of progress," explain Kathryn Cummings, Cole's pediatric physical therapist.

Cummings works with Cole each week on his eye-hand coordination and balance. She uses different toys and technology to keep his attention so he doesn't know all the playing is really work.

Cole is running, jumping and talking.

"He appears to be a very normal boy and on most days it's hard to see he has an impairment. With his treatment there are good days and bad days," explained Cummings.

With the bad come tremors and poor balance.

"When you are doing great you feel like you are on top of the world when they are doing bad you feel like you are down in the dumps," explained Dennis about the roller coaster of emotions  her son's disease has created.

Cole's team constantly works to keep his brain active. Not knowing what the future holds, they are optimistic because Cole is a fighter.

"We try to enjoy him as he is because to be honest with you no one has promised tomorrow," said Dennis. 

General therapy could last between five and six years. There is no set protocol or treatment plan for Cole.

Seton Medical Center Williamson is raffling a Smart Cart to raise money to enhance care for pediatric occupation, physical and speech therapy.

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