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Childhood Cancer Awareness: Brandon’s Goal

By Kris Brauns (Brandon’s Mom)

My life was forever changed on February 4, 2003 and March 20, 2010. The former was the day that my son Brandon was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor; the latter was the day he passed away. The years in-between were filled with fear and hope, courage and humility, love and compassion, and pain and sorrow.

Brandon Brauns Brandon Brauns

September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and I want to share my story with you so that you will become just one more person better educated about this deadly disease.

Brandon was almost four years old when an emergency room doctor told us that he had a mass in his brain. I was not aware that children could get brain tumors. I spent most of that night watching my child sleep. We went to Children’s Seattle Hospital in the morning for an MRI and to meet with a surgeon.

On February 10, 2003, Brandon underwent a 12-hour surgery to remove half of the tumor. We were told that Brandon would not survive with 50% of the tumor remaining, and that we should enjoy our time together.

This scenario was unacceptable to us, so we found the best medical team in the country to treat our son. We spent the next three months in Memphis, Tennessee so Brandon could receive care from Dr. Tom Merchant. This decision gave Brandon two wonderful years of remission.

During that period of remission, Brandon had seven MRI checkups and each one showed that he was cancer free. Every MRI was preceded with loads of anxiety and feelings of elation for the following months.

Brandon was back in school and recovering well. He did have numerous deficits from the treatment. He had a left facial palsy, ate from a feeding tube for nine months, was unable to run like he used to, and lost his hair. The list goes on.

What I was thankful for was the gift of slowing down and seeing what is important: time with Brandon, sharing experiences, and enjoying the privilege of being his mom. Even though my life was horribly changed on February 4th, it also became filled with more love and feeling. I turned my cell phone off after work, left my laptop in its bag, and didn’t try to clean house while talking to my son. I would sit down and play with him, completely engaged in what we were doing.

During these seven, years, I educated myself about pediatric brain tumors. I didn’t know that cancer was now the #1 killer in children. I didn’t know that of those cancers, brain tumors killed more children each year than any other. I was shocked at these statistics. I felt so fortunate that Brandon’s life had been saved that I wanted to help others. We started a non-profit, Brandon’s Goal, to help other families, and we formed a support group for parents. Unfortunately, Brandon’s cancer returned and it became very aggressive. Brandon underwent several more surgeries, numerous radiation treatments, and painful chemotherapy. His life was full of doctor’s appointments, IVs, stitches, physical and mental deficits, and more.

Brandon started to feel isolated from his friends and was uncomfortable in large social settings. His friends would invite him out to a movie, but he would decline. Brandon wanted to stay home with his parents in the safety of his home.

It was heartbreaking to watch this disease take my child’s life away from him. What did make Brandon feel better was time with his family. During the last year of his life, we spent our time together by taking long drives, reading books, listening to music, drawing, watching movies, and inviting our family over for dinner.

Brandon suffered a severe brain event and seizure on March 15, 2009, one day after his tenth birthday. After this setback, it was clear that Brandon was losing the battle against his cancer.

Brandon’s goal was to beat his cancer and to help cure other children. He participated at fundraisers, spoke on the radio and at events, gave gifts to other sick children, and even organized a toy drive at Children’s Hospital during Christmas.

My goal was that he would survive to see his next birthday; he passed away at 8:29 AM, six days after his eleventh birthday.

Brandon’s celebration of life was attended by more than 850 people. His battle with cancer, his courage and humility, touched the lives of so many people. I have received letters and phone calls from all over the world about how Brandon changed their lives.

When someone says you can’t understand how it feels until it happens to you, nothing is truer than when you lose a child than in any other situation. I’m sharing my son’s story with you so that more people in our community will be aware of this deadly disease. By bringing awareness to childhood cancers, especially brain tumors, I hope that the support for finding a cure will increase. Pediatric cancers are the least funded cancers when it comes to research. I don’t wish my journey on any child, parent or family, so please help us find a cure for all pediatric cancers.

Visit to learn more about Brandon Brauns and the foundation created in his memory. The Brandon’s Goal website,, will be up and available to visit on September 25, 2010.

1 comment

One Comment to “Childhood Cancer Awareness: Brandon’s Goal”

  1. Shannon Lanza says:!/event.php?eid=176657435682346&index=1

    It has been 10 yrs today that my Jesse is gone from us… look for the event, 10 yr Memorial to Jesse Lanza and prayers for kids with cancer.

    I will be praying for you all for you have been forever changed.

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