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Christopher Wilke, 12-year-old battling rare form of cancer, dies

March 20, 2014
  • Christopher Wilke, 12, of Burbank, is at Children's Hospital Los Angeles for treatment of a rare disease he is battling on Monday, March 3, 2014. The disease is a a bile duct cancer that is rare for adults, and nearly unheard of for children.
Christopher Wilke, 12, of Burbank, is at Children's… (Tim Berger / Staff…)

Christopher Wilke, the 12-year-old Burbank resident who was fighting a rare form of cancer, died Thursday at 9:33 a.m.

"He passed peacefully this morning, he wasn't in any pain," said his father, Joe Wilke. "He was resting comfortably and surrounded by his family."

Christopher was diagnosed in early January. 

He was the first patient on record at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles — and among the youngest patients ever — to be diagnosed with a pure cholangiocarcinoma, a rare cancer of the bile duct, according to Dr. Hung Tran, the hospital’s pediatric oncologist and assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at USC’s Keck School of Medicine.

As hospital bills begin to pile up, the Wilkes were overwhelmed by community support, which came by way of donations for medical bills and home-cooked meals for the whole family, Christopher’s father, Joe Wilke, previously told the Burbank Leader.

"I want to thank the community for their continuing love, prayers and support," Joe Wilke said.

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The family had several fundraisers planned that they will now dedicate to starting a foundation in Christopher's honor as a way to "keep Christopher's legacy alive, and to try to help others so they can find comfort in his spirit," he said.

Arrangements for his burial are still being worked out, Christopher's father said.

A baseball game hosted by Christopher's team, the Ryan Dogers, will be played in his honor at Schafer field at Ralph Foy Park in Burbank on Thursday evening, with a dedication ceremony at 7:30 p.m.

Christopher’s best friend, Dillion Ryan, will be pitching, donning Christopher's number 48 jersey in his honor.

"He was a huge baseball fan, that was his passion," his father said. "He loved playing and watching the game. He would play it every day of his life he could."

-- Sameea Kamal, sameea.kamal@latimes.com

Follow on Twitter: @SameeaKamal.

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