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Posted below is our story of how this began.
Blue Mile Sign
Our story of our fighter. Bradford was a warrior since birth. He loved playing sports and most of all lifting weights. He was in college out of town away from family when the first episode began. At the young age of 19 he was experiencing mild symptoms that would come and go. He went to a local ER for abdominal pain that had not seemed to let up. There were labs done and a CT scan. He was sent home with antibiotics which seemed to clear things up some. A year went by and he moved back home. Never once did he complain but seemed to be sleeping 18+ hours a day. Bathroom habits had changed to the point he could not finish a complete meal without going to the bathroom. We would ask if he was okay and he told us he was. Back pain had started, pressure near the rectum, and more trips to the bathroom. We finally convinced him to go to the doctor which was an internal medicine office that I worked at. Labs showed mild anemia. Then he was sent to a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy. Life went by really fast after that. The doctor came in to tell me how things looked and I could tell by the look in his eyes something was not right. The colonoscopy was not able to be completed due to something large nearly blocking the sigmoid. He told me that they would need to do some more imaging and send him to a surgeon. Never once did he complain or mention there was blood in his stools. I was shocked to see the amount of blood that there was after he went to the bathroom following the procedure. He had a CT scan done shortly after that visit. In the meantime we had a date scheduled for surgery. The surgeon explained that it could be a number of situations depending on what was found in the colon during surgery. We had our fingers crossed that it was something simple. At now 21 years old cancer was never thought of. A few days before surgery I pulled the CT scan to see kind of what to prepare for. That was nothing but heartache. I read those two words a 100 times, "likely adenocarcinoma." I just knew that I had misread it. There was no way my brother had cancer. A secret that I never wanted to keep because it ate me up inside. He had to be admitted for pain control due to increased pain since the colonoscopy. Surgery began early in the morning. We all were waiting in the room for a possible four hour surgery to be over. The phone ran for the Hines family. Mom and I got up to answer. We were told to go into the smaller room and speak with the surgeon. A mass the size of a grapefruit was in the sigmoid. The surgeon explained that it was colon cancer of the colon and rectum, stage IV. There was no family history of cancer in our family. Life was a rollercoaster. A young, healthy, fit 21 year old just diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. We did genetic testing and it was negative for everything. He had a port placement. A temporary ileostomy bag and chemo was soon to begin. He was adjusting well. We had to make many accommodations but they were for the best. Mom was his right hand. He kept fighting through all the rough patches. A month after surgery he started having blurred vision. Oncologist ordered a CT scan of the brain. BAM we were hit with another obstacle that was just as shocking as the first one. He had a brain tumor in the left frontal lobe of his brain. Due to extent of biopsy we waited on a biopsy and began chemo treatments for the colon. Chemotherapy was not as bad as we expected. He took it like a champ. Once he finished his CEA levels were at a 0. He was doing well. So well that he was at the gym everyday building himself back up. We met with another neuro surgeon to see what they thought needed to be done about the brain tumor. We were told it was an aggressive brain tumor within the glioma family. We again opted to wait for a biopsy as the tumor itself was inoperable. I searched for another neurosurgeon and found the best of the best. Dr. Allen Friedman at Duke was my choice. I called to see if he would take on his case and he agreed. Went to those appointments to establish Bradford with the possible surgeon that would complete the biopsy when he was ready. We were all in hopes of much better days ahead. A year after all of this began he started living with friends again, he was driving and living the best life he could when things declined fast. After three auto accidents we realized the tumor was causing triple vision. A biopsy was done and gave us a better look at the tumor makeup. It was not a mets from the colorectal cancer. Rarely enough he had two primary tumors that were not linked. The brain tumor was a grade II astrocytoma. Pressure began to build up so we proceeded with a shunt placement. He was having a hard time staying awake, disoriented frequently, and throwing up spells. A few months passed and we were at the one year and a half mark when weight started dropping rapidly again and bathroom trips increased. The neurooncologist wanted him to see gastro to make sure all was okay in the colon area before starting radiation to the brain. My first time meeting this doctor after the CT scan of the abdomen and yet another BAMMM. The colorectal cancer was back and it came back with a vengeance. We walked over to speak with a surgeon about possible options. There was no possible way they could do surgery on the area it was in this time. Another non-operable cancer we were faced with. Radiation was out of the picture as well due to the vital organs involved in the area. He took it with a strong willed attitude. We all told him no matter what we would fight along side him no matter the storm we would go through. Together we opted for brain radiation to continue as planned. Things seemed to become hazy from there. His condition declined. The radiation was daily and he was not able to due much more. Bathroom visits were frequent. No control of his bladder or stools. We as a family almost 2 years since diagnosis had to choose his quality of life over quantity. We decided at the young age of 22 it was time to bring him home to live his best life surrounded by family, friends, and love. Bradford turned 23 on September 12th 2020 and he passed peacefully September 23rd of 2020. He was finally cancer free and at peace again. I vowed to bring more awareness to others, especially our younger individuals. So that is why I am doing this in his memory. We need more voices to help others. We need to be the voice to give the reason why screenings are so important. Cancer does not care what your age is, your race, nor your religion. You may not have a family history of cancer but I promise you its not hard to start one. Get yourself screened. Polyp removal can save the cancer diagnosis. Never give up no matter how hard the battle is. You will have a whole lot of bad days and some good. Listen to your body. REMAIN #braddystrong always.
He was so handsome.
Thank you all again!! My heart is so proud of our supporters. #braddystrong
Bradford was only 20 when diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. He is now the best heavenly angel. So in his memory we're going to walk for him. Join us. We would love you to join us.