Broden (Brody) O'Donnell was born February 20, 2011. He was the happiest little baby and hardly ever cried. At around 8 months old, Brody started to display some areas of concern. He had difficultly keeping his food down and vomited almost daily. Coincidentally, Brody started to tilt his head to one side. After speaking with our pediatrician and a specialist, it was suggested that both physical therapy and reflux medication were the best remedies.
After numerous PT sessions and a few different medications, Brody's vomiting increased to multiple times a day and his weight dropped dramatically. We rushed Brody to the ER to demand answers.
In January of 2012, Friday the 13th, a CT scan revealed that our 11 month old baby boy had a 2 inch by 2 inch tumor on his brain stem. Brody was admitted to the PICU at Children's Hospital Orange County and scheduled for surgery 3 days later.
The surgery lasted 5 hours and was one of the longest days of our lives. Family and friends gathered in the waiting room trying to keep our thoughts positive, but we were petrified. After the surgery, Brody's neurosurgeons gave us a thumbs up and said they removed 99% of the tumor. Thankfully, Brody recovered quickly and was back to his happy, energetic self within a week. Our family was extremely grateful. Brody's surgeons successfully performed an extremely risky surgery with absolutely no deficits.
The following week, we received the devistating news that Brody had AT/RT, an extremely rare and aggressive form of brain cancer. According to statistics, only 30 children in the US are diagnosed with AT/RT each year. Our neurosurgeon explained that even after surgery and chemotherapy treatment, Brody would have a very low chance of survival. (According to statistics 10% survival rate)
Despite the poor prognosis, we refused to give up hope. We learned about a doctor at Children's Hospital Los Angeles who specializes in brain tumors as the basis of 20 years of research. Under his guidance, Brody began the fight of his life.
Brody's treatment lasted 7 months. His protocol included 2 rounds of intense chemotherapy, 3 rounds of high-dose chemotherapy followed with stem cell rescue, and 28 sessions of IMRT photon radiation.
Brody completed treatment in August 2012, and we are so proud that he has been cancer free ever
Throughout this journey Brody has been amazing. Despite every adversity, he has managed to smile, laugh, and embrace the world around him. His incredible spirit has given our family so much joy, strength, and hope.
For updates on Brody's progress, please follow his Facebook page:
Blossoms for Brody