Braxton Weidman and his family received the news in September 2020 that he had an aggressive malignant brain tumor. He was only 8 years old.
The Greystone family of five has experienced a rough year as Braxton underwent two brain operations, radiation and chemotherapy. He began a new immunotherapy treatment in early August.
His symptoms have deteriorated as the cancer has advanced. But the Weidmans say they have been thrilled by the outpouring of love from neighbors, celebrities, and people from all over Canada.
In August, Jarrod Russell from Lloydminster, Canada, a city that borders Alberta and Saskatchewan, set out to pedal 1,200 kilometers on his recumbent trike for Braxton and other children facing cancer.
Jarrod learned about Braxton’s cancer struggle after seeing an ESPN article about how Alabama Coach Nick Saban and several Alabama football players rallied behind Braxton after realizing he was a passionate Alabama fan.
Russell related to Braxton’s tale since he was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was four years old. He underwent three major operations as a kid and has been cancer-free for several years. But scar tissue from his surgeries has left him largely paralyzed on his right side. He also has language difficulties and epilepsy. Russell said that he felt connected to Braxton, with whom he communicated via email owing to linguistic barriers.
Despite the fact that they were over 2,200 miles away, Russell wanted to do something to attract attention to Braxton’s tale and to assist the Weidman family financially.
Russell has competed in the Canadian Great Cycle Challenge for the past six years, raising funds for the Sick Kids Foundation. This foundation helps children and families affected by pediatric cancer. He raised more than $147,000 in the first five years. Now he wants to send some of the money he raised this year to the Weidmans to assist with the medical costs or other bills related to Braxton’s care.
He had raised more than $10,000 this year as of early August. All funds received directly through Russell’s Great Cycle Challenge page will benefit the Sick Kids Foundation. But Russell plans to donate a part of funds raised through other fundraisers to the Weidmans.
Russell fell and broke his collarbone in April, but was determined to finish the Great Cycle Challenge, said Lane. To accomplish his objective, he had to travel 39 kilometers each day. This is difficult for someone who is partially paralyzed, she added.
Russell has been in close contact with Braxton’s parents, Brandie and Chris Weidman. He gave him one of his jerseys, which he wore to one of his treatment sessions.
Russell is a genuinely kind guy, according to Chris Weidman, and the Weidmans appreciate what he’s doing.
When the Weidmans went deep sea fishing around Labor Day 2020, they sensed something was amiss with Braxton. Braxton was too tired and was ill in the car on the way back home from the beach.
His lack of energy persisted, which was unusual for him because he loved being outside. His mother said that Braxton was sleeping the whole time and that they couldn’t work out what was happening.
They had taken him to the doctor for a series of tests that yielded no results. Then, on September 15, Braxton suffered a seizure while sleeping. His parents rushed him to Children’s of Alabama. An MRI and CT scan revealed a disconcerting image of his brain, according to his mother.
His father that the cancer was covering the majority of his brain, some of which was operable but not all.
Braxton underwent his first surgery at Children’s. This alleviated some of the pressure on his head that was causing his tiredness and resulting in the seizure. The Weidmans, however, felt that the initial operation was insufficiently aggressive and sought out Dr. Frederick Boop, chairman of the pediatric neurosurgery section at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, who conducted a second operation two weeks later.
They tried to remove as much of the tumor without causing a loss of capacity to his functionality and it worked out.
Braxton still required medical attention though. The Weidmans searched the country for the optimum solution. They put him in a study for six to seven months. But in late June, an MRI revealed a tiny area in Braxton’s cerebellum that had not previously existed, suggesting that his therapy was not working.
Braxton’s balance, coordination, and walking have all suffered as a result of his illness. His mother explained that it was obvious that the tumour had not totally gone.
Braxton began a new immunotherapy medication treatment in early August, in addition to chemotherapy and radiation. Braxton’s father believes it is his greatest shot at a longer life.
The Weidmans were first informed by doctors that Braxton had 12 to 18 months to live. His father said that It has been close a year, and that they are trying to beat this.