Meet the Board of Directors
Ron Bechtold and Colleen McPeek
Ron and Colleen McPeek Bechtold live in the Bay Area of California and are the parents of three children. When their youngest son, Anton, was born he had a small lesion on his forehead. Lesions soon covered his head and trunk. At three months of age he was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis. He was treated at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, where he received chemotherapy and steroids for six months. Fortunately, the disease was diagnosed early and Anton responded well to the treatment and has been in remission since 1999. As a consequence of the disease or treatment he does struggle with a cognitive disorder. His resilience and determination is inspiring and will serve him well as he grows into an adult.
Once their lives began to stabilize, Ron and Colleen felt strongly about helping other families facing this disease. In September 2001, they kicked off the first "Hike for a Cure.” They raised $12,000 and decided to make it an annual event. Since 2001, Hike for a Cure (H4AC) has raised more than $1.8 million in funds for research. At the 10th Anniversary H4AC, Ron and Colleen announced their goal to find a CURE for histiocytosis by 2021. With a group of committed parents they became founding members of The Histio CURE Foundation.
Lucus was diagnosed as an adult with single-system multi-focal LCH. In 2010, doctors discovered a lesion in Lucus’ C2 vertebral body. The lesion had fractured Lucus’ cervical spine and required removal. A biopsy determined the lesion was caused by LCH. After many months in a cervical collar, he was eager to resume his life. Lucus got married in 2011 and travelled to Bali for his honeymoon. While in Bali, Lucus developed a subtle limp which quickly turned into painfully losing the ability to move his left leg. Four weeks later, Lucus was headed back to Alaska mostly unable to walk. Within days of returning home, Lucus travelled to Texas Children’s Hospital to meet Dr. Ken McClain. Lucus endured six months of chemotherapy treatment under the incredible care of doctors in Anchorage, AK. In 2012, nine months after completing treatment, Lucus participated in his first Hike for a CURE. Lucus joined the Board in 2013 and is committed to help find a cure for Histiocytosis.
Rosanne’s daughter, Colleen, began to show symptoms during her senior year of high school. She was incredibly thirsty and had no appetite, but she was still active in sports and regular life. After a few more symptoms appeared she went to her pediatrician who quickly had her admitted to the hospital. Doctors at UCSF diagnosed her with diabetes insipidus and a pituitary tumor. The doctors were able to remove most of her tumor, and a biopsy confirmed LCH. She received radiation—this treatment is no longer recommended. Colleen is doing well and is a nurse at UCSF now.
Rosanne with her family and friends participated in Hike for A Cure – Yosemite after Colleen’s treatment and have continued hiking and raising funds each year. She joined the HCF board because she feels families and patients can make a difference in finding a cure. When Colleen was diagnosed in 2005 there was little information available to families looking for help. Doctors were not always familiar with the disease or how to treat it, but that is changing. Now researchers are anxious to study all types of histiocytosis and are beginning to make real advances.
Alexis and Wendy Bertauche
Wendy and Alexis Bertauche live in Reno, NV. Alexis graduated with a bachelor's degree from UC Davis in 1992 and works as a Registered Respiratory Therapist at a level 2 trauma center in Reno, NV. Wendy graduated with a bachelor's degree from UC Davis in 1993 and a Master's degree a few years later. Wendy is an Independent Team Beachbody Coach. They have 3 boys, ages 14, 8 and one in Heaven. Their relationship with Histio began in 2008 when their middle son, Tanner, developed an odd looking lesion on his backside and started contracting his stomach to breathe. None of the doctors they sought out could figure out what was wrong and he was misdiagnosed several times before ending up in the PICU. Wendy and Alexis flew their son to Lucille Packard Children's hospital where he was properly diagnosed with JXG. Unfortunately, a treatment protocol was nonexistent and Tanner's treatment was a direct collaboration between Wendy, Alexis and Tanner's main oncologist from Children's Hospital Oakland. It meant many late nights on the computer, conference calls with the doctors, and frantically searching for any information they could get their hands on. Ultimately, Tanner was treated with 2CDA, which worked! Unfortunately, he relapsed on his 4th birthday and needed a bone marrow transplant. While prepping for the transplant, the Histio was just too much and Tanner's little heart stopped beating. Tanner passed on Nov 17, 2009. Wendy and Alexis found the Hike for a Cure a few months later and began their healing process with an 18 mile hike up Half Dome in their son's memory. They continue to fight for a cure in their son's memory because it is exactly the thing that Tanner would do!
In November of 2009, Daniel began experiencing debilitating pain and spasms in his upper back and neck. An MRI confirmed the presence of a suspicious lesion in the C5 vertebrae of his neck. A biopsy was performed and Daniel was officially diagnosed in February 2010 with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, one month before his 40th birthday. The lesion destroyed the C5 vertebrae and spread to the C4 vertebrae causing his neck to fracture. A 6-level spinal fusion – C4 through T1 – was performed to repair his damaged spine. That was followed by 12 months of chemotherapy. When a second cranial lesion was discovered in his clivus, another 15 months of chemotherapy were ordered. This time it was a different protocol newly developed by Drs. Ken McClain and Carl Allen at Texas Children’s Hospital. As of December 2015, Daniel’s clival lesion has shown no activity and he is living strong in Houston.
Daniel is a proud alumnus of Texas Christian University where he received his BA in Political Science/International Relations in 1994. He spent 18 years in Fort Worth before relocating to Houston for his LCH treatment. He first teamed up with The Histio CURE Foundation in March of 2012 at the Hike for a Cure Texas and was one of the first 6 participants in the Spit for a Cure campaign. The monies that have been raised through The Histio CURE Foundation and all its friends have helped fund ground breaking research at the Histiocytosis Program at Texas Children’s Hospital (like Spit for a Cure). It was this research that helped Drs. McClain and Allen develop Daniel’s new treatment protocol. Needless to say, Daniel is honored to be a board member of The Histio CURE Foundation where he can spread awareness about Histiocytosis.
“I survive so I can help make a difference.” Daniel E. Ramón
In March of 2017, Kathy’s two-year-old son, Will, cried out in pain in the middle of the night. The next morning he woke up screaming and could barely walk. After weeks of testing, Will was diagnosed with multisystem Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis. A tumor in his spine caused his vertebra to fracture, completely collapsing down. Thanks to the medical research supported by HCF, Will is now in remission. Kathy and her husband, John, started fundraising for HCF while Will was still in treatment by running a half marathon. Soon after completing the race, Kathy joined the Board so she could help HCF raise critical funds for Histio research. Kathy is a California attorney, devoted mother of three young children, and an enthusiastic HCF supporter.