Brighton has been diagnosed with a malignant tumor on his pineal gland, located in the mid-brain. The doctors arrived at the diagnosis in February and immediately took him to start chemo-therapy, as the tumor was deemed an aggressive one.
One chemo treatment last for three days—five hours each day—and little Brighton must then wait for at least 22 days before the next round of chemo-therapy. His next treatment is scheduled for March 26.
The chemo treatments are so strong that Brighton remains toxic for 48 hours after each three-day treatment session ends. Ms. Hendricks and Brighton’s mother Kim—and others who help take care of him—of Colby, Wisconsin, must actually double-glove for those 48 hours. Laundry must be done separately with Brighton’s clothes washed alone.
“The tumor is located where the neurosurgeons could not even reach it to do a biopsy,” explained Ms. Hendricks. The tumor is aggressive, the treatments are aggressive but so is the family’s hope.
Asked how mother Kim is holding up, Ms. Hendricks answered “She is bearing up very well. Of course, it has been hard on her but she is staying strong.
Eric Pogodzinski, Brighton’s father, is a U.S. Marine stationed at Cherry Point, North Carolina. He was home to help with the set-up for Brighton’s first treatment before returning to duty. He will be coming to see his son again before the second round of chemo. Then he will return to North Carolina on April 18 in time for the delivery of a daughter by his second wife Debra. The plan is for Eric to be stationed for command out of Madison. He will be given time to assist in the care of Brighton and will be required to check in with command in Madison for the duration of Brighton’s treatments.
After the chemotherapy, which Brighton’s little body can take for a limited amount of time, the doctors will switch to radiation therapy until the treatments are completed. The doctors are quiet about venturing any prognosis. “Nobody talks about it,” says Ms. Hendricks.
“But Brighton is bright and inquisitive and he describes his condition as having ‘a bump’ in his head that the doctors are trying to ‘flatten out so I can fit more brains in.’ That’s the only terms he can use to understand what is happening to him.”
Brighton’s kindergarten teacher, Ms. Jami Schnabel has responded with extraordinary compassion and creativity in navigating the situation for Brighton and his classmates. She was at the hospital for Brighton’s first treatment. She brought with her a package of cards written to Brighton from his classmates. When she returned to her kindergarten class, she brought along a stuffed bear named “Brighton Bear.” The bear sits in Brighton’s desk when Brighton is absent from class. A classmate will carry Brighton Bear to recess and lunch to show Brighton’s on-going presence in spirit.
Currently, Ms. Schnabel is looking for help to make beanies that all the students will wear as Brighton begins losing his hair due to the chemotherapy. That way, all of the students will in solidarity with Brighton’s appearance.
On Saturday, April 4, a benefit for Brighton will be held at Meadowview Golf Course in Owen, Wisconsin, beginning at 12 noon. Scheduled events will include Paddle, Board, Card and Bucket Raffles, a bake sale, a silent auction and a meal to be served.
The proceeds from the “Cancer Benefit for Brighton” will be designated to defray the costs of travel, accommodations, medical bills and whatever else Brighton needs during the four to five months of chemo and radiation treatments.
Those wishing to donate to the benefit or to Brighton’s fund may call Sandy Hendricks at 715.668.5358 or Sheila Bakke at 715.229.2614.
“I just have a bump in my head and the doctors need to flatten it out,” says Brighton. May it be just that easy.