Monday, November 30, 2015

Brandon Bardoza is 15 years old and from Costa Rica. His 3 biggest dreams in life are graduating from High School, learning to play guitar, and travelling with his dad.

This story begins in December 2013 when Brandon starts having strong headaches. When he goes to the doctor, he's told that it's a migraine and gets sent back home. One day however, Brandon realizes he has a lump on his throat. His father takes him to the doctor again, who assures him that his lymph node is just swollen.

Back home his father notices something alarming: his son is losing more and more weight and his headaches are getting stronger. It is then that a specialist gives them the right diagnosis: he has primary nasopharynx cancer.

Erick, his father cant believe it: his son was always very healthy and only suffered the normal flu. The tumor had almost completely shut down his mouth and he could only fit a small straw between his teeth. He started losing weight rapidly, and got down to 28 kg. 

Then the doctors tell Erick something which breaks his heart: Brandon might not withstand the chemotherapy because he is too skinny and there is no way of feeding him. The only way to give him the needed nutrients was through a catheter. It was decided that they would check his weight after one year, to see if he would be strong enough to receive chemotherapy. One year later he weighed 33 kg. Doctors believe it's enough and the boy received his treatment, while still going to class!

"The worst thing as a father was seeing him weighing just 28 or 30 kg. Seeing him so skinny. However, he is very self-confident and in January he wanted to go to the beach. There he took his shirt off. He didn't mind; the catheter was gone and he was feeling fine" says Erick in tears. The first chemotherapy sessions dried his salivary glands, the ones that allow him to eat and talk, but his school mates, who always supported him, organised a "casual day" at school, where they collected €800. The money allowed them to buy artificial saliva for their friend. Brandon made it through chemotherapy.

Months later however, the family suffered a new blow: Brandon feels a pain in his left leg, so bad that he can barely walk. Doctors tell him it could be a new primary tumor and that they might need to amputate his leg. The cancer had spread to his bones. Thankfully tests show that his leg does not need to be amputated. Brandon had his femur bone scraped and spent 4 months in a wheelchair. He received chemotherapy and radiotherapy, 24 hours a day, for several days. Despite the painful treatment, Brandon never lost hope and or complained. His father helped him move and bathe.

Brandon was slowly recovering but it wasn't over for him and his family. Months later he has a third relapse: this time it's his ribs. The treatment is lighter this time. He doesn't like his hair falling out, but "it will grow back again", he says. His willingness to live and acceptation of things as they are, are really admirable. "I think things always happen for a reason and God knows why he sends them to us. Something good will always come out at the end". Throughout his illness, his father and school mates have been a great support. He is slowly making his dreams come true and thanks to a community project, he has learned to play guitar. A famous Costa Rican band taught the little fighter.

But that is not all! 2 months ago, Brandon made another of his dreams true: he attended his graduation ball! His family couldn't be prouder of him. He's been fighting for 3 years now but hasn't lost his hope. "That is how I dream of him: strong, grown-up and professional", says his father proudly. Erick is the one who takes care of him, takes him to his treatments and supports him. For Erick, it’s his son who supports him.

This Costa Rican kid’s will to live, strength, and spirit are really admirable. No one knows better than him what it's like to go through hard times, but he knows how to smile back at life and accept what comes, because as he says, "everything will get better". 

If this moving story of a kid fighting for life has touched your heart, share it with your friends and family. We have to accept what life gives us!


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