Brody Jordan Birrell-Gruhn
June 19, 2012 - September 1, 2015.
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On Christmas Eve of 2014, my son Brody was diagnosed with stage 3 Rhabdomyosarcoma of the head and neck. His treatment plan consisted of 43 weeks of chemo, and 28 radiation sessions, along with scans every 3 months to track his progress. Brody's first progress scan in April 2015 showed that the tumour was shrinking and that the chemo and radiation were working! He was the happiest we had ever seen him in his first few months of treatment, even though the chemotherapy began to take a toll on his body. Brody turned 3 years old on June 19th, and shortly after he had his 2nd progress scan which showed that his tumour was "essentially unchanged". There was no shrinking, but also no growth,or so we thought.
August 31st was like any other day. We woke up early for Brody's CancerCare appointment, he had no chemo that day just a simple blood test (finger poke as Brody would say). While waiting for the blood results in our room he began complaining that he was about to puke (it was very odd because he hadnt had chemo for 2 weeks prior) I remember his little voice saying to me "mom, I'm gonna puke" over and over again. I let his oncologist know before we left to go home.
We were on our way to visit his Nana, half way there he seemed to be doing a lot better , he had even gained his appetite back. At 2:00 pm Brody was playing, laughing, and goofing around with his Aunties like he always did at Nana's house. I didn't know that would be the last time I would hear his laugh, playful screams, or his little feet run down the hall. By 3:00pm Brody began to seize, and by 3:05 he was in an ambulance getting rushed to Emergency, his seizure did not stop.
His eyes were open in the ambulance but he wouldn't look at me, he just stared blankly at the doors while the paramedics tried to stop his seizure. While in the resuscitation room he was intubated, surrounded by more than 10 doctors/nurses. Soon after we learned what brought on Brody's seizure, and would receive the most devastating news any parent could hear.
The CT showed that Brody's cancer had spread to his brain, and his oncologist delivered the worst news we could have ever expected, our son would not live. His cancer took over his brain, and he wasn't going to wake up.
On September 1st, 2015, friends and family came to say their goodbyes. Brody, Jordan and myself spent the majority of the day cuddling in his bed in the PICU. His breathing was improving, so the doctors said the machine could be turned off, then it would just be a matter of time. When the doctor came to turn it off Brody seized again and his oxygen dropped to 7. Minutes after we were told that we would have to sign a DNR, and next time it happened could be the last. Our families had left and it was just the 3 of us in the room when Brody's levels slowly started dropping. We were panicking as his nurse came in to shut off his monitors, she told us to hold on to him and we heard her tell the others in the hallway "hes deciding to go". I could feel my heart beating outside my chest, my body started to go numb. I whispered in Brodys ear "it's okay to let go, I love you so so much". A minute later he took his last breath, once his tube was out i finally got to kiss his little lips for the last time.
Everything I do now is for my son, there is not a second in any day that i dont wish he was still here with us. I want to be a voice for my son and every other kid out there who needs help fighting. I have seen what cancer can do, and I have experienced the pain cancer causes. Without donations there will be no research, and without research we cannot find a cure or better treatment options. No parent should feel the way I do, I miss my little boy every second of every day. I want to help make a difference, as little as it may be, I will fight with everything i have to help the patients and families affected by cancer. Brody is the strongest person i have had the pleasure of knowing, and I can't begin to explain how proud I am to be his mom.
-Tori Gruhn (Brody's Mom)