Boy Battling Inoperable Brain Cancer Gets Very Own Superhero Theme Song

Chad Carr, 4, has an aggressive, inoperable tumor in his brain stem.

ByABC News
October 22, 2014, 8:25 AM

— -- When Chad Carr fell and broke his nose, the four-year-old boy’s parents took him to a hospital. Medical staffers saw him and sent him home, but the incident set his mother to thinking about all the other times her son had fallen.

“I just said I think we have to take him back to the ER, I don’t think something’s right ...,” Tammi Carr, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, told ABC News in an interview on Tuesday night.

While Carr and her husband, Jason, waited on the results of an MRI that was to have taken two hours but which took 3-and-a-half hours instead, Carr said she knew something was wrong.

“When the anesthesiologist came out I just knew something was really bad because she literally couldn’t look at us and she’d been crying … so it was -- she just said they found something, and then a doctor came in later and told us what it was,” Carr said.

The Carrs were told that their son -– the youngest of their three young boys –- had diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (or DIPG), an aggressive, inoperable tumor in his brain stem.

The news came three days after his fourth birthday, and he was soon started on radiation and put into a clinical drug trial at the University of Michigan. Asked about his prognosis, Carr said doctors said it was “not good,” but she added that her son has been improving.

“We’re praying for a miracle and he’s doing really well … he had a really wobbly gait for a while there and his eyes were starting to cross and he – it’s all better at this point so the radiation is doing something,” she said, “and we’re just you know living day by day and we’re asking people to pray for him and we’re trying to get the word out across the country because we’ve seen – we believe that it can happen and we believe in that power.”

One bright spot in the family’s troubles came in the form of a text from a friend, the father of Ariel, Zoey and Eli Engelbert, who appear in a TV show. The Engelberts’ father wrote that his family had been inspired by Chad's challenge and was writing a son about him. He sent them lyrics, and Carr said the song was “totally catchy and adorable.”

It became Chad’s own superhero theme, with rousing music and lyrics that extol the virtues of a boy who’s “stronger than the darkest night, faster than the speed of light,” with the chant in the background: "We need Chad tough." The video features appearances by Chad’s two brothers, TJ 9, and Tommy, 7; his cousins; his father; and by the basketball team of the University of Michigan. Lloyd Carr, Chad’s grandfather, was for a long time the head coach of the university’s football team.

The video also includes appearances by the little superhero himself, and his mother has been pleased by the way the video has been received.

“Today it just it’s everywhere it’s good because again -- we want people to know his story, we want people to pray for him, we want people to know about pediatric cancer …,” she said. “This is just bringing more attention, it’s a great song. It’s something I’m going to cherish forever.

While Chad isn’t very aware of the severity of his illness –- his mother says there’s no need for that -- he understands that the video is about him, Carr said.

“He struggles a little bit with ‘why do people think I’m a superhero?’ He says ‘I know what that song is about. It’s about me. I’m not a superhero,’” Carr said.

As of Tuesday night, the video for “Chad Tough, the superhero theme song for #ChadTough,” had been seen more than 4,000 times. It was first posted to YouTube on Monday.