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When Brady’s mom, April, saw her then 3-year-old son walking around in the backyard hobbled over, like a crippled old man, she knew they would be taking another trip to the hospital. They had already been numerous times for check-ups, only to be told time and again Brady was suffering from typical issues for his age. This time though, their doctor told them to get an ultrasound, and after a series of tests and scans Brady was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma.
Their treatment schedule took them to Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, about an hour away from their home in Webster, MA.
Brady started his first round of chemotherapy the same week they discovered the disease in July 2012. He underwent aggressive treatment including a stem cell transplant, radiation, MIBG therapy and ch14.18 antibody treatment with the neuroblastoma team at Dana Farber, but he had his first clean scans by August 2013. Since his central line was removed that December, he’s been all clear.
Despite the family’s good fortune of being able to rid Brady of cancer, their battle with the disease was still extremely difficult. Few moments exemplified their resolve more than when the Boston Marathon bombing forced their usual hospital into lockdown. They needed to change Brady’s bandages, but with no access to their doctor and their usual home nurse on vacation, they had to do it themselves.
“I called my husband and told him we have to change his bandage, it’s already been a week,” said April. “We had to do it at home, ourselves, but Brady handled it.”
His mom is still in shock at how calmly Brady went through it all.
“What he went through as a 3 year old, I honestly don’t have words, I’m just kind of amazed at it,” said April.
Now, Brady is four years cancer free, although his parents are having trouble convincing him to remain a kid after all he went through. He’s already acting like a grown up.
“He’s very independent for an 8 year old. I think because he was around doctors and nurses for so long he’s in the mindset that he wants to work,” said April. “He wants to mow the lawn with grampy, he wants to do things that adults are doing, but I told him he has to enjoy being a kid.”
Brady’s family continues to support Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, as it provided hope that a cure will be found so children no longer have to endure such harsh treatments. The Foundation has been a part of their life since Brady’s diagnosis and they’re giving back by fundraising and participating in events like Lemon Climb Boston.
While their family is still aware his cancer could return, the fourth year of clean scans has given them plenty to celebrate. Now, Brady’s comfortable enough acknowledging his cancer and how he conquered it.
“We were talking about it and he said, ‘I beat cancer,’ and we responded, ‘yes you did,’” said April. “He’s finally talking about it openly now whereas before we just talked about it when he wanted to.”
Hero Quote: “I beat cancer. I nailed it!” – Brady
Information provided by April Smith, Brady’s mom
Updated October 2017
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