My sister, Jennifer, who lived most of her life with a severe disability until she passed away before her thirty-eighth birthday, told me once that she was going to write a book titled, “Hard Knocks on a Soundproof Door”. She lived to the best of her ability, overcoming daunting obstacles on a daily basis. I admired her very much. I have had my challenges as well, but none so severe. When you see someone struggling non-stop, it is easier to put your life in perspective. You build faith when you come out on the other side of a life-altering trial, and subsequent trials are met with new-found skills. If a person is breathing, they have already overcome countless rounds of problem solving, and can carry that experience with them to any dilemma. It is the attitude you greet your negative experience with that matters. You must decide who will win in your life, you or your problem.
Tags: battling cancer, Non sermonia germ cell cancer teratomia and cariocarisnoma, teenager
Brad was a strong, well built 17 year old boy. He was 6’ 2” tall and weighed 230 pounds. He appeared to be the picture of health. Unaware to us, there was a terrible disease growing inside his strong body.
In October of 2008, Brad started having head aches and numbness in his arms and hands which became increasingly severe.
We took him to see his doctor in Camden, TN who then referred him to Vanderbilt Children’s hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. Brad saw a neurologist and had a MRI performed on his brain. The results were normal. The doctors said that it appeared that Brad was probably just having migraine headaches based on his family history and the symptoms presented. They prescribed him NSAID pain relievers and sent him home. Over the next two months, Brad’s headaches continued and he was taking the NSAID medicine more often. By the end of December as Brad’s headaches grew more severe and he even became very pale, we took him to the emergency room in Camden. There they discovered, he had blood in his stool and his blood counts were very low. They immediately stated a blood transfusion and transported him by ambulance to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Upon examination, the ER doctor discovered a mass in his lower, left abdomen. They also discovered through test, that he had a bleeding ulcer. Brad was taken into surgery to repair the ulcer and control the bleeding. After this operation more tests were done to investigate the mass. Numerous scans and tests later, they discovered that Brad had lesions on his liver, lungs, and two in his brain that had not been there in the original scan in October.
Brad was diagnosed with testicular germ cell cancer on January 1, 2009 at the age of 17. The cancer by then had metastasized to his lymph nodes, liver, lungs, and brain. This was one of the worst days of our lives knowing that our youngest child had a life threatening illness. Brad would now begin the fight of his life. He had numerous treatments. After his first round of chemo and a left orchiectomy, his AFP markers normalized, but his beta HCG levels were still high. He endured several more rounds of chemo and each time the beta HCG would go down, and then start to elevate after each treatment. The doctors at Vanderbilt decided that a stem cell transplant was his best option to fight the cancer. They began to harvest his stem cells from his blood which necessitated travelling back and forth between Vanderbilt and Holladay every day for a month. They did the transplant on January 18, 2010. He had to stay in the hospital for six weeks. The first test after the transplant, the Beta HCG went down to 35 which was great news. Unfortunately when he went back for his one month check up, the numbers were increasing again. The Doctors then decided for him to have surgery to remove the mass from Brad’s abdomen. It was a long, complicated surgery that lasted for hours. Brad’s recovery from the surgery was painful, but the Doctors were hopeful after they removed the tumor. The pathology report from the mass indicated that Brad had a very rare form of cancer called Non sermonia germ cell cancer teratomia and cariocarisnoma. As his tumor markers continued to rise after each subsequent check up, we decided to take Brad to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. At MD Anderson, they continued to do more tests and found that the lesions had returned to his lungs, liver, but his brain was clear. Unfortunately his Beta HCG was over 600,000. They decided they would start him on Suntent which was a clinical trial pill for patients battling kidney cancer. He was to take the pill for six weeks, rest for two weeks and return to Houston for further evaluations. We returned home from Texas to continue the regimen the Doctors had prescribed. At this time, Brad was still suffering head aches and almost constant vomiting from the drug.
On the second week of his rest period, the headaches that Brad had been having became so bad that we rushed him back to Vanderbilt on June 17, 2010. Another MRI found nine lesions on his brain and that they were bleeding.
On June 20, at 11:00 PM surrounded by family and friends our beloved son, Brad Coleman went to be with his savior, Jesus Christ. This was the hardest day of our livesBrad was a very special person. He was loved by so many people. Even when he was so sick, he never worried about himself or let his sickness stand in the way. Even in his final days, he was worried about us.
His favorite saying was “It’s Just A thang” when the Doctors told him that there was nothing else they could do for him, He said it’s alright Doc “It’s Just A thang”.
Tags: courage, determination, endurance, goals, Grit2Glory
“It takes a little courage, and a little self — control. And some grim determination, If you want to reach the goal. It takes a deal of striving, and a firm and stern-set chin. No matter what the battle, If you really want to win. There’s no road to fame. Life, however we may view it, Is no simple parlor game; But it’s prizes call for fighting, For endurance and for grit; For a rugged disposition and don’t know when to quit.” Unknown
While eating at a local bowling alley I was witness to a young lady that would be described as Grit2Glory. She appeared to have cerebral palsey and bowling with incredible accuracy. She would approach the lane using crutches that wrapped around her arms. She then removed one crutch and a helper handed her a ball. Her throw was unorthodox but assertive and with more accuracy than I could achieve. She reminded me of my sister whose hands were so deformed that they looked like lobster claws but had the most beautiful handwriting. It seems that the imagination inspired by an undeterring spirit will find ways to overcome the most challenging obstacles.
Tags: champion, gaming, sports, wins
We all enter this world searching for very basic needs; food, shelter, and encouragement to grow. We don’t have anything holding us back. We don’t know anything exists that can stop us! We persist. We breathe in, breathe out, and learn to communicate to get what we need. We meet each challenge with new strength and strategy. We mold ourselves to whatever comes. We are not alone. God is with us. No retreat.