I am writing to spread the word of an incredibly strong little boy who was diagnosed with brain cancer. Pilocytic astrocytoma (Slow growing, with relatively well-defined borders. Grows in the cerebrum, optic nerve pathways, brain stem and cerebellum and accounts for only 2% of brain tumors.) When Kari and Cody (parents) heard of this news it basically sent them into a whirlwind of emotions. They were told Brooks should be fine but still how to cope with the fact that your 4 year old son has cancer is beyond me. God works in mysterious ways and through all of this his parents have stayed strong in their faith. All they ask for is prayers! If you would, for the Russell family, please pray for them and Brooks as he has become a hero to many! Below is a blog by Cody and Kari which walks you through the day they found out, their son, Brooks had cancer.
I’m Not in A Christmas Carol, Am I?
When this whole mess with “B” started it was pretty dramatic, and rightfully so. The day we found out that he had a tumor in his spinal cord was very similar to being swept up in a tidal wave (you’re upside down swimming with the fish when you think your swimming toward the shore). And as the news was delivered to us that our lives were about to change, there was also a message that everything would be fine and not to panic. Consider it to be a mix of crying, smiling, frowning, and staring, you just don’t know really what to think, say, or feel. It’s not like we found out our gold fish, Big Tony, was dying, that is expected. To found out your son has a tumor is pretty devestating. What made this all kind of hard to decipher how to react was the reaction from the doctors themselves.
You see the day we found all this out we had been sitting in the waiting room for over 4 hours, not because something was wrong, but because it just took that long for them to do a full body bone scan/MRI. They (being the doctors) finally called us back and one of the doctors met us at the doors, and in that instant we knew something was off. We met with three different doctors during our consultation and each really gave us a different feeling as to how to react to the discovery. The first doctor, an orthopedic doctor, was very cautious and gentle about delivering the news. He did a great job too, because you could tell that he wasn’t really familiar with having to have that kind of discussion. With that being said, you could also tell that what he was having to tell us was pretty serious. So it left an impression of “O.K. What do we do now?” not really feeling anything other than shock and regret of not treasuring every moment we could of Brooks. There was no, “Everything will be O.K.” or “This is going to be the end”, it was what it was, it was fact. He left us to the second doctor, (I’m starting to feel like Ebeneezer Scrooge in the Christmas Carol here), his reaction was different as he was the surgeon.
The second doctor was alot more optimistic. I believe his wording was “Let’s not over react here” and if you ask me that sounds a lot like “Come forth, and know me better man!!” but he wasn’t as round or as jolly as the ghost of Christmas present. Anyway, the doctor went through what we were going to have to do and what type of tumor he believed it was (an ependymoma). Which as he explained it all, made it sound as if we would go in remove the tumor and we’d go on with life as normal after a couple of days of recovery. I understand that he wanted to air on the side of caution, but the expectations he gave us really set us up for disapointment over and over. To be frank, he set us up to be round house kicked in the face by Jean-Claude Van Dam with a blind fold on. Feels really nice.
The last doctor, who wasn’t really a doctor involved with our case, but someone who was familiar with us really forshadowed what we were in for and she didn’t say much other than a sentene or two “I’m so sorry (there were tears in her eyes) your lives are about to change so much” Looking back now, I couldn’t have asked for a better opening statement from a doctor. She was just passing through as she had found out the news, so she wasn’t doing a consultation with us, but I like what she said. She really said what we needed to hear, in a nut shell “Things are going to be different.” Ahh the ghost of Christmas future… you never fail to disapoint.
Now, every doctor played their part in telling us what was going to happen next, but the problem is that it was never a clear cut “This is what will happen.” It was all explained to us as if you had thrown up a deck of cards and were hoping that a full house would fall in front of your face. Really, every aspect has had a hint of, “I don’t know”, “It’s hard to say”, or “This COULD happen” from the doctors, which is more infuriating than biting your own lip while enjoying a favorite meal. You just think “What do you mean you don’t know? You’re the doctor?” Regardless, we believed that after a couple of days of recovery Brooks would be able to walk again, he can’t. We believed from the MRI that the tumor was a ependymoma, it was a pilocytic astrocytoma (sounds spacey) which made it even more rare, but actually better. We thought we would be out of the hospital after 3 days, we spent a week in Vanderbilt, a week in In-Patient Therapy in Lexington KY, and another week back at Vandy after an ER visit and high liver enzymes fighting an infection. I guess what we need to start realizing is that we have no control over what happens in this. The only thing we can hope and pray for now is that recovery and chemo go smoothly and quickly. Just like Scrooge in A Chrismas Carol we believe that our future is not set in stone. We will continue to believe that we will see our son walk and play again, and I don’t believe he is that far off.
This is one of those things that just takes over your life, and you could never be ready for it, but you can believe there is a better outcome. This is one of those things that “doesn’t happen to you”. You read blogs about people who go through this, you don’t write them. But here we are, writing this blog; sifting through feelings, answers questions and to trying to make sense of it all. Hopefully through this we can help someone else who is on the same path or give someone strength to make it through something just as difficult.
Have you ever had one of those “Is this really happening?!” moments?
Thanks for reading,
Cody & Kari
Below are links to more blogs by Cody about his family and this journey.
You can also follow them on Facebook to get regular updates from Kari and Cody here:
Most recent post:
Sorry for the lack of updates. Wednesday he will have his 3rd round of chemo. So far he has taken it pretty well. He is having some nausea the day after but we have medicine to help with that and his appetite has been up and down but all in all, he’s doing great.
We have raised over $3,000 so far between shirt sales and donations. It has been incredibly humbling to see all of the financial support that we have received from our family, friends and our incredible church! We want to thank all of you so much!
B is an INCREDIBLE little boy. He’s our super hero!
By his loving mother Kari Watts Russell
Kari’s sister has set up a fundraiser website because, as you all can imagine, the medical bills for this must be more than you can imagine and in no way, shape, or form could anyone be prepared for this. Any donation is appreciated.
(Click above for a link to the donation page)
Brooks Russell is my nephew. He is a 4-year old little boy who recently had surgery to remove a large tumor from his spinal cord. He is now in the process of intense physical therapy and chemotherapy. His family recently purchased a wheelchair for him as he is learning to walk again. Brooks has two loving parents and two little sisters. His family appreciates any donations to help with medical bills and family expenses. God Bless You!