EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of two parts.
Bradley Lawson laughs and cuddles his dog Gabby, shows off fishing bait and plays with toys like any 5-year-old boy — but the Krebs boy’s parents say he’s a walking miracle.
Adam and Rachel Lawson said their son struggled with vomiting, constipation and extreme exhaustion in early 2019. Nurses had been saying for months that he had a stomach flu that would go away or that they should treat him for the flu.
But October 9, 2019 caused more concern when Adam picked up Bradley and his eyes skewed.
Bradley also began to display unusually angry behavior that caused further concern and the family rushed to St. Francis in Tulsa — where a nurse checked his eyes and immediately brought him back for a CAT scan.
Adam said he made his first phone call to keep family members updated when the nurse called the family back in to give the results and a quick explanation as they took Bradley to the operating room.
“They said we should work on it while we move,” Adam said. “We’re taking him to the ICU, we’re putting him in a coma, he has a brain tumor the size of a lemon.”
Nurses and doctors met the parents while Bradley was being prepared for surgery and they were waiting for a neurosurgeon.
Rachel said the information came so quickly that it became difficult to digest.
“I was in a panic,” she said. “You never want anyone to tell you that your child has a brain tumor.”
Adam, a survivor of testicular cancer, said most of his life after diagnosis was spent paying bills before his condition forced him to leave the workforce for just over a year.
The dad said he spent a lot of that time just being a dad, saying Bradley was the first of their three kids to see all the firsts — run, walk, words.
“It’s great,” he said with a hearty laugh.
Adam said that connection made it harder not to sleep next to Bradley during his two brain surgeries.
The first surgery lasted about nine hours before Bradley went back for more scans and another long surgery.
Rachel said the parents had had little sleep at the time as they tried to keep the family informed.
Adam said he carried his son’s blanket through the hospital and to bed.
Doctors and nurses told the family they nearly lost Bradley because he lost so much blood trying to cut out the tumor — and Adam said he resorted to praying for their son to make it.
“I told God I’d understand if he took it, because I’d want it too,” Adam said. “But I told him if he was going to take it, I’d better take it quickly.”
A week later, another surgery had failed and doctors told the parents it was definitely some type of cancer — they just didn’t know what kind at the time.
So professionals secured a transfer to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital – a 255-bed children’s hospital in Memphis, Tennessee with a nationally recognized brain tumor program through St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Bradley’s head couldn’t handle the pressure changes from the flight event with a shunt to help adjust and he needed a flight on a special medical aircraft.
They met on November 1, 2019 with doctors, who said Bradley had signs of bleeding in the brain and that chemotherapy could make it worse – but they could try experimental chemotherapy if surgery and other treatments don’t work.
Adam said he returned home on November 6 to gather Bradley’s brothers to visit him. He also started shaving his head to make Bradley feel more normal when his hair would inevitably fall out during chemo – when he got a call from Rachel.
“She said, ‘I have bad news because Bradley has had a seizure, the tumor is bleeding, they said he was brain dead and they said we had to get him off the ventilator,'” Adam said.
Read the rest of the story in the Thursday edition of News Capital.
Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at firstname.lastname@example.org