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Brandon's Story

Brandon LOVED hockey.  In January 2007, shortly after his 14th birthday, he developed excruciating pain in his left leg after being on this ice for several hours over a couple of days.  We thought he pulled his groin muscle, his pediatrician confirmed that it was indeed a pulled groin.  After two and a half weeks of physical therapy the pain became more intense and he could hardly walk.  His physical therapist suggested that he sees an Orthopedic Surgeon for a second opinion. The surgeon (Dr. Sauchak) ordered an MRI looking for a possible hip fracture on February 21, 2007.  That MRI revealed a tumor in his left femur.  Dr. Ron Irwin performed a biopsy on March 1, 2007 and identified the tumor as “Osteosarcoma” - a form of bone cancer. 


Brandon had every test that can possible be done in preparation for the chemotherapy. On March 5, 2007 he was admitted to Sparrow Hospital and on March 6th Dr. Scott discovered the cancer has spread to both lungs. The first chemo started on March 7th and he received inpatient chemo at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing until the end of October 2007. His femur was removed and replaced with a metal rod on May 23, 2007 by Dr. Irwin. Brandon's new rod dislocated on June 9, 2007 and he received a total hip replacement on June 10, 2007.  All of these surgeries were done in Detroit, Michigan hospitals. 

Brandon was NED (no evidence of disease) the beginning of November 2007 and was receiving weekly Interferon injections from November 2007 to February 20, 2008.


During a routine scan, new tumors were discovered in his left lung, as well as nodules in the right lung exactly one year from his original diagnosis - February 21, 2008.


The next chapter began with a right lung thoracotomy on March 2, 2008 then he had surgery on his left lung on March 31, 2008, both at McLaren Hospital in Lansing.  On April 17, 2008 his left lung clasped and he went into surgery to have it repaired. The end of April 2008 Brandon once again was declared NED. He was put on a new protocol (GM-CSF – a breast cancer protocol) and it was supposed to end in October 2008.

His next scan in June 2008 showed new tumors in both lungs.  There were no more treatment options available to him in Michigan.  There was however an Osteosarcoma specialist at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas that offered to help him continue his battle.  In July 2008 he started treatment at M.D. Anderson.  Full body scans were performed and new tumors on his trachea & inner pleura were discovered in addition to those in his lungs.  On July 9, 2008 he started an “investigational study” that involved a vigorous chemotherapy schedule for several months.  On October 2, 2008 an emergency open biopsy surgery on his left leg was done by his surgeon Dr. Irwin in Detroit Michigan, when a mysterious bump formed on the metal rod in his left femur, a resection of lymph nodes was done and thankfully no cancer was found. Brandon then completed six more rounds of chemotherapy through November 2008.   On December 1, 2008 through January 6, 2009 he began radiation treatments to his chest in addition with high dose chemotherapy at MD Anderson in Texas. 


After radiation Brandon was sent home for a break.  On January 13, 2009 seizures took him back to the emergency room in Lansing, Michigan and an MRI was ordered.  A tumor was discovered on his brain. He was transported to DeVos Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan by ambulance.  A PET scan was done and showed several other tumors throughout Brandon's entire body.  The PET scan lite up like Christmas lights on a tree. 


On January 16, 2009 brain surgery was performed at DeVos Hospital to remove the tumor in order for him to continue to see, smell, talk etc.  The tumor was growing at a rapid rate and the biopsy revealed that it was Osteosarcoma.  On January 25, 2009 Brandon started a new chemotherapy treatment designed for brain tumors at DeVos.  On February 15, 2009 Brandon had trouble breathing and excruciating chest pain and was put through a battery of testing.  On February 19, 2009 a biopsy surgery was performed on his right lung looking for an infection and Osteosarcoma was found inside and outside surrounding both lungs.  


Unfortunately even with the utmost strength and will… his journey came to an end on February 22, 2009. Brandon battled obstacle after obstacle and always maintained a positive attitude… from the first day he was diagnosis with cancer and even after his last pet scan when he knew his chances of survival was bleak. He was backed by a tremendous amount of support and knew the network of people pulling for him.  People from around the world provided him with an unbelievable quality of life through his grueling battle.  There is are no words to express our heartfelt gratitude to all of those that helped Brandon through his journey.   


While in treatment at M.D. Anderson, Brandon asked if we could raise money for pediatric cancer research someday since there are so few options available to kids.  Shortly after his passing Brandon's sister Marissa and I (Brandon's mom) wanted to continue the fight for him.  We understood and have witnessed firsthand both the emotional and physical pain that these kids and their loved ones endure.  Together we built Brandon’s Defense Foundation to help children with their cancer journey in memory of Brandon.  


Brandon was born December 22, 1992. B/B.G./Brandon/Gordie #22 made a huge mark on this earth and will always remain in many, many hearts.


Visit for his complete journey. 

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