For most engaged couples, the evening before their wedding is focused on last-minute arrangements and final touches. For one family, the last-minute details on October 27, 2006, were unlike any other.
Braeden’s mother, Tiffani, was getting the youngster ready for bed when she noticed his left leg was red, swollen and warm. She and her fiancé, Michael, rushed their 3-year-old son to the emergency room, where an ultrasound led to the news that no parents ever want to hear: Braeden had a mass on his abdomen, and it appeared to be cancerous.
Braeden was immediately admitted to Geisinger’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital for specialized care. After more tests, pediatric hematologist-oncologists diagnosed Braeden with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft, skeletal-tissue cancer.
Braeden’s tumor spread throughout his left side, from his left ankle all the way to his diaphragm. The diagnosis brought with it a 60 percent chance of survival.
Michael had promised Tiffani a wedding with Braeden as their ring-bearer the next day, and now more than ever, with the future seeming so uncertain, he was determined to keep that promise. On October 28, 2006, Braeden gathered with his family in the chapel inside Geisinger Medical Center. He stood with his IV pole beside him and watched his parents say their vows.
Three days later, Braeden began daily chemotherapy treatments for two weeks. He and his family then traveled to Janet Weis Children’s Hospital every other week. He was admitted for up to five days at a time while receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatments – treatments which seemed to be working.
Within six months, Braeden went from Stage IV cancer to no signs of the disease.
Braeden still undergoes medical tests every three months and occasionally sees Jagadeesh Ramdas, MD, in the pediatric hematology-oncology department.
“I am so excited for Braeden because nobody would have thought he would do so well through such hard chemotherapy,” Dr. Ramdas says.
Today, 7-year-old Braeden is a typical boy who loves to play outside and wrestles with his younger brother, Parker. He also aspires to be a NASCAR driver. His father describes him as a “ball of energy.”
“I am glad that I am better so I can go bowling with my family,” Braeden smiles.
Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger provides funds for medical equipment to help doctors treat cancer, as well as for items such as recliners in the patients’ rooms. Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger also helps fund Camp Dost, a program of the Ronald McDonald House of Danville that allows children battling cancer to experience all the fun and activities of a typical summer camp.
Meet Braeden: 2010 Miracle Kid
Braeden's parents received an unwelcome wedding gift: their son's Stage IV cancer diagnosis. But it also made the family stronger than ever.