Each week, Fourth and Gold will highlight a cancer warrior that has bravely and fiercely stood strong against childhood cancer. At Fourth and Gold, we want you to see the faces behind our drive and connect with them in a way you wouldn’t have been able to if you didn’t take the stand to demand #MoreThan4! Our precious kids have cancer, but cancer does not have them.
Brandon Nalagan, diagnosed with Refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia at 17 years of age
Current age: 18, DOB (01/14/2000)
Favorite things: Brandon loves to play basketball and video games
Favorite foods: Sushi and any type of seafood
If you know Brandon you know that he: HATES being inpatient at the hospital! Brandon recently turned 18 and the last thing any 18 year old should have to endure is being stuck in the hospital for days at a time missing out on his prime teenage years.
What you cannot see here is that Brandon has undergone:
- 10 rounds of chemo
- 30+ spinal taps
- Laminectomy (back surgery)
- 15+ bone marrows
- 1 PICC line placement
- 2 central line placements
- Brandon is unsure of the amount of procedures he has left, but he does know he will eventually require a life-saving bone marrow transplant
Brandon on the hardest part about having cancer: “Being neutropenic* all the time”
Brandon on one thing he wishes people understood about childhood cancer: “It’s not rare”
Biggest change since diagnosis: “Got a spinal hematoma from a spinal tap and got paralyzed for a couple months, but gained all my movement back (which the doctors said he wouldn’t). Still recovering from that today and it’s definitely been the hardest thing to overcome.”
If you’re reading this, I want you to close your eyes for just one minute. Picture yourself at 18 years old. What were you doing? What was your biggest worry? Unfortunately, for Brandon and teenagers just like him, he frequently is worrying about his diagnosis, if he has to go to the hospital, what medications he needs, how the chemo will effect him, will he relapse? That is unfair. At 18 years old, Brandon should be enjoying his friends and family, finishing school, thinking about his future and what he wants to do.
Because our government only allots 4% of all research funding to pediatric cancer, Brandon’s treatment options are devastating and limited. Brandon has already undergone 10 harsh rounds of chemo with awful side effects, but also was PARALYZED from a SPINAL TAP. A spinal tap in an oncology patient is often considered “routine”, but nothing in a child with cancer is routine, every last bit of treatment has risks and side effects.
When people hear childhood cancer, I assume they think of kids <10, but childhood cancer ranges from 0-18 and they all have the same protocol for their specific type of cancer. Brandon is on the same protocol that a child 3 years of age would undergo with his specific type of cancer. Doesn’t that seem a little bit… scary? That’s because it is. Our government NEEDS to do better by our children. Our children deserve more than 4%. Our children deserve better treatment that doesn’t harm them more than cancer does. Brandon deserves #MoreThan4.
“About 60% of all funding for drug development in adult cancers comes from pharmaceutical companies. For kids? Almost NONE… because childhood cancer’s aren’t profitable.”We want you to get to know Brandon and kids like Brandon so that you see their personalities for WHO they are, not WHAT they have. Each one of these children lived normal lives until they received a dreaded diagnosis that they never thought they’d hear. Please help change the research world of childhood cancer. There are so many opportunities for us to change the lives of SO many precious kids.
*Childhood acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Cancers that are acute usually get worse quickly.
**”Neutropenia is a condition in which the number of neutrophils in the bloodstream is decreased. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell. Neutropenia reduces the body’s ability to fight off bacterial infections”