|Posted by Michael Floyd on March 29, 2013 at 8:50 PM|
It was discovered in an x-ray when Brandon was two-and-a-half. It was taken to determine if his persistent cough might be pneumonia. It wasn’t pneumonia at all. This was a fist-sized tumor attached to his spine located between his heart and lung.
A few weeks of poking and prodding found the tumour was ganglioneuroblastoma. Not the worst blastoma or the least dangerous blastoma if there is such a thing. What we knew about it at the time – rather, what we were told about it at the time - was that the age, the size of the tumour, stage development and aggressiveness offered a 25% chance for survival.
Brandon received incredible care at the Calgary Children’s Hospital and the Tom Baker Cancer Center. Many unimaginable weeks of poking, prodding, testing, and successful surgery ensued. Following that another five years of MRI’s proved that it wasn’t to return. He was given a “cancer-free” designation, and qualified for an unrated whole-life insurance policy.
Fast forward to December 2008, age 15. Brandon awoke and began getting ready for school just like any other day. In an instant, he fell to the floor... and it was all over. Brandon awoke for the second time that day. Damage was localized to blindness in the left eye and impaired mobility in the left upper body.
What we learned was that Brandon has blood vessels in his brain referred to as AV Malformations – purposeless blood vessels that aren’t supposed to be there. It’s not very rare that people would have these AV Malformations, but what is rare is that they burst. And in some of those cases those bleeding blood vessels are located in a sensitive area of the brain. In this case it was and caused a stroke.
Whether it was permanent or if there would be improvement was unknown, only time would tell. The area of the brain where these blood vessels were located was inoperable.
Attempts were made to close off the blood vessels by running a tiny wire through an artery, up through the body to inject glue into them and permanently seal them yet were unsuccessful. Another procedure was introduced using a device called a Gamma Radiation Knife. This giant room-sized device would shoot gamma radiation particles through Brandon’s skull and brain directly at the blood vessels in an attempt to fry them closed. The computer was programmed with three-dimensional imaging, a metal halo was bolted to Brandon’s skull then bolted to the table, and the gamma knife went to work.
2 years later in spring of 2011, another blood vessel near the site burst and caused another very mild stroke. Physical issues were minor with no recurring vision and mobility loss. Another week of testing indicated that this blood vessel had completely closed off and further aneurisms are unlikely.
But he’s not waiting around to find out whether they are or not.
Today, Brandon is back to 100%. It’s his wish to begin a new journey starting with this trek from coast-to-coast simply being grateful to be here and physically able to do it, to trust and leave all worry behind and to truly recognize what living truly is.
He would like everyone to know – to truly believe – that no matter what happens to us in our lives, we will survive and thrive.
We can’t do this alone. Please sponsor Brandon’s and his Long For Life!