15-year-old Braden didn’t spend his ‘snowcation’ inside, he did something Georgia teens rarely get to do: build a snowman. He asked his mom, Tina, if the snowman could wear her Tumor Trooper t-shirt (which she had just purchased at BTFC’s Holiday Party a few weeks earlier). Tina obliged. Pennies became a mouth and sticks became arms. Voila!
Braden’s brain tumor journey began in 2000, when he was only four. With weeks of headaches and nausea, Tina repeatedly took her son to the pediatrician. But, her mother’s intuition told her that Braden did not just have a virus. Pushing the pediatrician as much as she could, a CT scan was scheduled for Braden on March 6, 2000.
However, just two days before the scheduled CT scan, Braden was sick again. His mother could not wait and took him to the local ER. An emergency CT scan revealed a three inch mass in his brain which was vascular and contained tentacles. He slipped into a coma and was transferred to Scottish Rite hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. That was the moment when the lives of Braden and his parents turned upside down.
Braden was diagnosed with a grade four glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). His treatment consisted of a year and a half of chemotherapy and 30 sessions of concentrated radiation. Tina knows that Braden’s survival was two things: statistically unlikely and a true miracle.
Braden still has two spots on his brain that doctors are watching, but has been cancer free for 11 years. Each year he walks in the “survivor lap” of his local Relay for Life. His mom created a video to celebrate Braden’s survival – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5fw-uHPKAs.
Although the treatments left him with a significantly reduced immune system, Braden has never let his brain tumor slow him down. He is in ninth grade and a huge fan of both the Atlanta Braves & Atlanta Falcons, collects tons of baseball cards and loves golf and hunting (several years ago he was able to kill his first doe, a proud moment for Braden).
Tina Pilcher, Braden’s mother, said “BTFC has been an awesome support system for us. We attend as many functions as we can and love seeing Sherry (Samuels) at brain tumor clinic. We have received a huge amount of emotional and social support from BTFC.”