Brandon's Updates - 2005

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Last Updated: 05/19/09
Brandon Update - Thank you!

Hi all, we're back home and enjoying our routine again! Brandon is doing remarkably well. He has a ton of energy, is loving seeing his friends and organizing his room and seems to be much happier just being home! We are so proud of him, he really amazes us. He will start back to school on Tuesday and will likely be back full swing as he is feeling so good!

Maui was such a needed rest for us. Beaches, no watches, no schedule, fun with our friends and lots of sun and swimming! We did a snorkel trip and a Luau on Christmas eve, other than that a whole lot of nothin' which felt really nice!

THANK YOU! We have a list of thank yous to extend to so many of you!

Thanks to Kris' mom and dad and all of our neighbors who decorated our home so when Brandon got here he could see that Santa did not forget about him! He as so thrilled and we know you all spent a lot of time doing that for him and for us, thank you so much!

Thanks to everyone that came down. Long drive for a short visit but you made Brandon's night!!! He kept talking about how many people were there and how cool the signs were! Thank you for rallying around our boy!

Kennet is a friend of Kris' from High School and lived at our home for 2 months to take care of our dogs. We can't thank him enough for doing this. It was a huge relief knowing they were cared for! It was fun talking to him as he would describe what the dogs were doing, they are a couple of characters!!

Once again our family, friends, community and a ton of people we don't even know supported Brandon and our family during such a difficult time. All that you did and do help to keep us afloat. We could never thank you all enough.

Brandon's next St. Jude appointment will be in early Feb. Around the 8-10th. We feel a bit anxious that it is so soon but know that the doctors are taking such great care of him.

Happy New Year!
Kris, Brandon and Jeff

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Brandon  update - Dec. 13 - Coming Home Thursday!

Hi all, hope you're well!
We are on our last 2 days here and as we pack up we feel sad to leave David and Julie but happy to get home and be done here!

Brandon seems to have turned a corner today and is feeling better than the past few days. He slept a ton over the weekend after his surgery and obviously needed it! He is doing well and only has 2 more radiation treatments and an MRI tomorrow, then we fly home!

GREETING AT THE AIRPORT! We know some of you have said you'd like to come down, thank you! This will mean the world to Brandon and we are so appreciative! Here is our flight info:

Northwest 161
    Depart Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP)    5:23 pm
    Arrive Seattle (SEA)                      7:08 pm

We will arrive at the N or S Gates so we will come up to baggage claim from the big long escalators. Kris' mom, Dianne/Grammy is coordinating should you want a contact for Thursday. Her cell is
206-930-4818 or you can e-mail her at r_dforth at msn dot com

Well this will be our last update from Memphis! We can't tell you how much you've all helped us while here. You do more than you'll ever know without doing anything specific! Just your love and support has helped us tremendously!


Kris, Jeff & Brandon

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Brandon Update - Sunday, Dec. 11

Hi everyone,
Brandon is out of the hospital and is doing well. We actually got out around the middle of the day yesterday! Brandon again amazed us with his resilience, he is such a good patient - he was able to get a good night's sleep and rested comfortable with no pain meds.
Saturday morning Brandon and Jeff walked all the way down to the cafeteria (for those of you that have been to LeBonheur know that this is a long walk). Back at the house Brandon laid low and slept for much of the afternoon.

We are happy to have Sunny, Shelly, and Traci here to visit! They arrived at the hospital yesterday just in time for us to get discharged.

We're on our last week and very thankful for that. Monday will be a full day at St Jude as they need to re-simulate Brandon radiation due to the surgery. Unfortunately these simulations require contrast so Brandon needs to get another IV - this should be his last IV!
Here's Monday's schedule:

     9:30 am    Assessment & Triage (vital signs, height & weight)
     9:45 am    CT Simulation
    10:45 am    MRI Simulation
    12:30 pm    Dr. Merchant clinic visit
     1:00 pm    Radiation Therapy
     1:30 pm    Speech Therapy Consult
     2:00 pm    swallow study
     3:30 pm    Physical Therapy Consult

love Jeff, Kris & Brandon

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Brandon Update - Dec. 9 - Out of Surgery

Hi all,
Well Brandon got through his surgery today amazingly well! Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers! He said "I hope this is the last surgery I have to have for a long time". Us too!

We started the day by dropping Grammy off at the airport. We were sad to see her go and it was just as hard for her to leave when her boy was having surgery. Jeff, Jeanne McDonald and Kris headed off to St. Jude for Radiation and to get Brandon's IV in. They are much better at putting in IV's over there so we opted to get it in at St. Jude then head to LeBonheur.

Brandon's surgery started at 12:10pm and was over by 1:30pm. Dr. Boop was able to just go into about 75% of the original incision to fix him up! He said that the original sutures from the October 26th, 2005 surgery had never fully healed; likely due to the radiation. He said that each individual suture site was oozing CSF fluid to the space in between Brandon's skull and his skin. So he stitched up each site again and then sprayed "Dura Seal" on the incision line to glue it shut. He feels this should work. We will now be in watch and wait to see if it tries to leak again and to see if his ventricles at the top of his head fill with fluid. If this happened he would need a shunt. This would only happen if Brandon's body could not re-regulate the fluid itself after fixing the sutures.

Brandon once again amazed us, the nurses and his doctors. ONLY 2 hours from being off of the table he 1). walked to the bathroom 2). Walked to the video cart and picked out a movie and 3). Went down to the cafeteria to get something to eat!! His nurse said SHE HAD NEVER SEEN A PATIENT UP AND AT IT SO QUICKLY!!! He is a trooper!

He only has 3 radiation treatments left then we fly home and off to Maui! We are very glad we are at the end of this all, feels like we've been gone a long time. We were glad to have Grammy here for the week, Jeanne with us through the weekend and our much anticipated visit from Shelly (Elliott) Pflugrath, Sunny Cameron and Traci (Guedel) Miller. Then 2 days to pack and home!

Thanks again for all of your support, mail and prayers. We hope you all know that there is no way to sanely get through all of this without the family and friends, old and new that we have. You keep us grounded, inspired and pick us up time and time again when we feel we are at the end of our rope, so THANK YOU!

Love Kris, Jeff and Brandon

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Brandon Update - Monday Dec. 5th

Hi all, we are only 10 days from heading home and we are all excited, especially Brandon! We will get home on the 15th and then turn around 12 hours later to leave for Maui. We had planned this trip last August ONE DAY before we found out his tumor was back. A "Meant to be" vacation I guess! We will be there with the McDonalds (Hannah's family) and are looking forward to hanging with them for the holiday!

We met with Dr. Merchant today and they decided Brandon would need the surgery this Friday to fix the CSF fluid leak. The medicine and lumbar puncture have not resolved the issue so the surgery will have to be done. Should be fairly straight forward with a 2-day hospital stay, nevertheless we had hoped to not have to put Brandon through another surgery. Jeanne McDonald is coming in on Thursday to be with us for the surgery. Thanks Mark for loaning us your wife, she is a great comfort to us.

Grammy (Kris' mom) got here today and will leave on Friday morning. We are excited to have her here! This morning Brandon said "The Gram-a-lama Ding Dong arrives today". He loves his Grammy! She will then return home to decorate our house with some lights so it is all ready for B when we get home for our 12 hour stay. Some of our neighbors have offered to help her and papa - thanks!

Ryan and Shelly Moore and Kris' sister Gina left on Sunday. What a great time we had with them. Brandon's best medicine this whole time was Ryan. He perked up, laughed, played and wore himself out with his buddy. Brandon had not had that much fun in a long time. On Saturday Brandon had his final round of full brain and spine radiation. From here on out it is only a conformal boost to the tumor bed. Next we returned to the Memphis Fire Museum to accept an invitation for a ride on an old fire engine. Brandon and Ryan had a blast riding through downtown ringing the bell and running the siren!

When we get home on the 15th we have arranged for a "Welcoming Home Party" at the airport. If you are interested and able to come down we would love it! The idea started when Brandon was watching the scene in Apollo 13 when the astronauts get back and are welcomed on the Navy ship with everyone cheering and happy for their return. Brandon asked if it would be like that for him when he got back from St. Jude. He needed not say anything more! So, we would love to have y'all down there if you would like! We are scheduled to land just after 7:00 pm (Northwest flight 161), more details to come. Please e-mail if you'd like to come so Grammy can help organize!

Other than that we are just really ready to come home! This has been a long haul this time and pretty warring. Brandon's appetite has been gone the past week or so. He is losing some of his steroid weight but it is frustrating to not have him eat. He is also cold much of the time, again a result of the radiation. It also doesn't help that it's been very cold (30's) here the past few days. Dr. Merchant said that these should resolve in a week or so and added that he's pretty beat up after the cranial-spinal radiation. He has a pretty sore neck and it is quite raw from the radiation. He is starting to nap in the afternoons a bit too. Other than that he is a trooper and has done amazing considering what he has gone through!

Love and friendship to you all!
Kris, Jeff and Brandon

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Brandon Update - Wednesday, Nov. 30

Hi all, sorry for the delay in getting this update out!

We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Lots to be thankful for as always but this year certainly gives us so much more than we could ever imagine. Again this journey with Brandon is not easy for him or us, but with the support of family and friends like you all our load is lightened. We know there are many across the States and around the world for that matter that we don't even know who pray for our boy and support him, so thank you to you all. You've made this journey a bit easier for Brandon and his family.

Bumpa, Kris' dad from Texas, came up for Thanksgiving and cooked us a wonderful meal. Always fun when he is in town! Kris flew back to Seattle that afternoon for Hannah McDonald's MRI, it went very well. Stable scan of the tumor with even a bit of shrinking. They could not be more happy and even Dr. Geyer said he was pleased! HOPE FOR HANNAH!!!

Jeff, Gary and Brandon hit the Children's Museum (twice) and the Fire Fighters museum over the holiday weekend while Kris was gone. Some good ol' fashioned "guy time". Grandma "T", Gary's other half came in Saturday to hang with us and Bumpa left on Sunday. Grandma "T" was with us quite a bit 2 years ago while we were out here so it was fun having her back again!

On Monday Brandon had both a CAT scan and MRI simulation to prepare for the final boost of local radiation to the tumor bed. Brandon was not looking forward to this at all since the simulations used contrast and therefore an IV was required. Brandon requested Miss Lee, the local expert among the nurses, handle the IV. She was able to get it IV started on the first try and Brandon handled it like a champ.

After today Brandon has three remaining radiation treatments to the whole brain and spine. Then he will have eight treatments of local radiation to the tumor bed. He is handling the radiation quite well but his back and scalp, and ears are very dry and itchy. Also he has a sore on the outside of his throat that stings - all effects of the radiation.

Brandon still has the swelling in the back of the head from a likely CSF fluid leak. The lumbar puncture did not seem to do anything to help with it. In fact during that procedure they nicked one of his nerves and he had some very uncomfortable leg pain for a day or so. Quite frustrating to say the least. They have upped his diamox dosage that helps to increase the amount of fluid the tissue will and can absorb. If this does not work he will need another surgery so they can go in a plug up the leak. Should only require a 2 day hospital stay. If necessary, the surgery would likely be next Friday so as to not interfere with his radiation schedule.

Shelly and Ryan Moore get into Memphis tonight. Brandon is so excited to have his best buddy here for the weekend. Big plans for those 2 that I'm sure will require us 3 adults to chase them around as they tire us out! Shelly came out last time we were here so it will be nice to have her back as well!

Grammy comes back next week for 5 days then we get to have Sunny Cameron, Shelley (Elliott) Pflugrath and Traci (Guedel) Miller in town for the weekend. We are excited to have them and show them around St. Jude since they've been so instrumental in helping us fundraise. And of course these being Kris' childhood friends a trip down to Beale Street for a night is in order!!!!

Thanks for all of the mail and packages, Brandon hits the mail box every day and loves his time on his bed opening each and every card. It is truly the highlight of his day!

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We love and miss you all!
Jeff, Kris and Brandon

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Brandon Update - Nov. 22nd

Hi all, sorry for the lapse in time, no news is good news though!

Brandon is doing well. He is handling his treatments like a trooper, we could not be more proud of him! He will soon transition to treatments that will just focus on the tumor bed. His last day of radiation will be December 15th then we leave for Maui on the 16th! Great way to reward Brandon for doing such a great job!!

We had Hannah and Jeanne McDonald here for a week, and what a great week it was! Hannah and Brandon were so cute together at the hospital and hanging at home. He loved having a friend here with him and it was neat to watch Hannah "not be the kid in treatment" but just being a friend to one that was.

Kris has been coaching girls soccer at Jackson HS for the past several years as a volunteer. Jackson made it to the final four for the state playoffs. So Wendy (Otto) Winsor and her Husband Aaron who also coaches at Jackson flew Kris home for the tourney! What a wonderful weekend she had as the girls took 3rd in State!!!

On Thursday Brandon's hair started to fall out - an expected effect of the radiation. This is never easy to experience, but once again Brandon amazed us with his strength. He hasn't been troubled by loosing his hair, other than that is gets all over his clothes and itches. We took the advice from a fellow patient and had his hair shaved very short over the weekend. Most all of the hair is gone now. It'll come back after radiation but may not be as full.

A bit of a road bump today. Dr. Merchant's nurse Christy noticed that the swelling at his incision site had not gone down as expected and scheduled a neurosurgery consult. Dr. Boop saw Brandon this afternoon and confirmed that the swelling had increased and would need to be treated. The likely diagnosis is that some CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) leaked and caused the increased swelling. He recommended a surgery to open the incision and look to repair the leak. We asked to first try to treat it using diamox and a lumbar puncture before putting Brandon through another surgery. We hope and pray that the medicine and LP will do the trick and let Brandon avoid a surgery.

Hannah McDonald has her next MRI this Friday the 25th! Please send good prayers and thoughts her way for a positive MRI and keep her family in your prayers as well as this is a stressful week for them as they anticipate the results for Friday!

Thanks for all of you positive energy, thoughts, and prayers,

love, Kris, Jeff & Brandon

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Brandon Update - Friday, November 11

Hi All,
Hope you had a good week, it's gone by quickly for us.  Brandon just completed his 7th radiation treatment this morning.  He has done great so far!  We expect him to start experiencing some side effects within the next few weeks or so.

He did another swallow study and was cleared for everything except milk! If he aspirated milk the likelihood of a pneumonia is high, so our MILK BOY is on the wagon for now and he is not happy! He is quite happy top be eating his favorites again. He requested McDonald's pancakes for breakfast.

We are slowly weaning him off of his steroids, we are all glad as he eats non-stop, gets a rash on his face and it does not help his mood! He is currently doing Physical and Occupational therapy. They all say he is doing quite well and could benefit from some more balance and strength conditioning.

B got his 37 stitches out on Wed., not a pleasant clinic visit. A combination of surgical glue and some dried blood definitely did not help when pulling them out. He had many tears but once again amazed us with his attitude, he is our hero!  Later that afternoon Brandon got a call from his first grade class - he really enjoyed talking to them!

We took him bowling on Monday! Brandon wanted to go so the 3 of us put on our very fashionable shoes and bowled away. Not our family sport by any means but we sure had fun! Yesterday Jeff and Brandon went miniature golfing and took a go-karts ride.

This evening Jeanne and her daughter Hannah arrive for a visit. Brandon is excited to show Hannah around the hospital. Kris surprised Jeff with a short trip this weekend to San Antonio for some 'guy time' with Kris' dad.

We got a copy of next week's schedule, Brandon starts with the St Jude school on Tuesday.  On Monday we have the following appointments:
•  Assessment & Triage
        •  Appointment with Dr. Merchant
        •  Radiation
        •  Physical Therapy

Another thank you for all of the cards!  Brandon looks forward to checking the mail everyday after we get back from his appointments. 

We love you all!
Kris, Jeff and Brandon

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Brandon Update - Monday 11/7

Hi all, please read the e-mail below from Jerry Arnold. His daughter Madeline has done something remarkable for our family and we wanted to share with you what she did. This is one of the blessings we get along the way and feel so lucky!!!! Thank you Madeline, we can't wait to meet you!

My daughter Madeline and son Jake attended the clinic in Snohomish (Madeline plays for Snohomish United U-11) Madeline was very moved by hearing about Brandon and reading about him and his family on the website that she turned her 11th birthday party into a fundraiser for him. Her goal was to make $400.00 so that your goal would be met.
The girls spent 2 hours playing, singing and drawing a big get well card for Brandon. Madeline wanted you to know that she will be depositing another $635.00 in the Jeffrey Brauns Family Donation Account this week because of the soccer clinics and that she and her classmates are praying for the Brauns Family.
God Bless
Jerry Arnold

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Brandon Update - Thursday, 11/3/05

Hi all, an update from Memphis on Brandon.
He is doing great! He really turned a corner this past day with how he is feeling. He has been funny, interested in doing things, and eating up a storm!!! He has now graduated to foods that require more chewing and a stronger swallow. We are confident that by Thanksgiving he should be eating whatever he wants!!!!

He had his first official day of radiation today, he did so well, he is so brave and wise for his age. He strutted in there with his Shania Twain CD and hopped up on the table and did great!! We are so proud of him, he really handles this all so well, realizes the importance of it and is so agreeable to what he is told to do.

IF ANY OF YOU HAVE A CONNECTION TO SHANIA TWAIN Brandon would so love to meet her, write her, e-mail her, anything. The boy is hooked, go figure. He loves her music, watching her concerts and will listen to her "UP" CD everyday during his radiation!

Yesterday it took them 3 tries to get his IV in for the contrast for his MRI. After the second poke he said he was done and if they tried it again he was going to blow up the place! Well, after a few calming minutes he agreed to give it one more try and the finally got it in, we were so very proud of him.

We saw Dr. Merchant towards the end of the day yesterday and he showed up the post-op MRI. He said he was "very pleased" with it. There are only 2 tiny pieces of residual left, "smudges" Dr. Merchant called them - not much of anything and such a better resection than we ever thought we would get. Dr. Boop certainly delivered us another miracle!!! Well that is all for now, thanks again for all of your support and prayers.

THANK YOU so much for all of your mail! Brandon loves to check the mail when we get back from St Jude, we'll sent a picture soon.

Much love and friendship,
Kris, Jeff and Brandon

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Brandon Update - Wednesday, Nov. 2

Hi everyone. Brandon is continuing to do well and we are so proud of his progress. The weather here in Memphis is beautiful, cool mornings followed by warm & clear afternoons. We'll catch you up on what we've been doing so far this week.

On Monday we were back at St Jude to meet with Dr. Merchant and discuss the treatment plan. It will be full brain and spine radiation. Last time Brandon had conformal radiation just to the tumor bed. This time since they found the new tumor Dr. Merchant feels that there is a higher chance that more tumors could arise out of the tumor bed, thus we need to radiate wherever CSF fluid can travel. This was a rough day for us as we had to sign the consent forms for the radiation. This involved Dr. Merchant going over all of the expected as well as potential short and long-term effects. This information wasn't new to us, but was still very scary to hear. Signing the consent was difficult because we, his parents, are giving the Ok to treatment that will likely cause Brandon long term deficits. We know that we don't have a choice as this is our best shot at a cure. After our meeting with the Docs, Brandon had his radiation simulation. This is a longer (30 min) CAT scan where they define the radiation field. Brandon was scared because he had to lay face-down, but he did a great job! We left the hospital after lunch and Brandon wanted some time to just veg out in front of the TV.

Yesterday we were scheduled to start up with the various therapies (PT, OT, & Speech), however Brandon had a rough morning and threw up multiple times. We headed in to St Jude to get him checked out and the problem was likely that he was being weaned off of the decadron (steroid) too quickly. Also possibly contributing was a lack of fluids, so we agreed that it would be a good idea to get some IV fluids. Of course this meant another poke for Brandon, but he did well. Brandon felt noticeably better once the fluids were finished. All of us (David, Julie, Rich, Dianne, and the 3 of us) went out to dinner to celebrate Rich's birthday. Brandon was hungry and ate a large bowl of mac & cheese.

This morning Rich left early for the airport to return to Seattle. We tried to get him to stay but Richy needed to get home to attend to the house and yard! Our first appointment today isn't until 12:15, it is nice to have a slow morning. Here's our schedule for today:

    12:15 pm   Assessment & Triage (vital signs, height & weight)
    12:45 pm   MRI Simulation (Additional information to help Dr. Merchant establish the radiation field)
     2:30 pm   OT (Occupational Therapy) Consult
     3:00 pm   Speech Therapy Consult
     3:30 pm   Radiation planning (work with combined CT & MR images)
     4:00 pm   Dr. Boop follow-up

We've got a busy afternoon scheduled. Today's MRI will be non-sedated, so Brandon won't need to get another poke. At the appointment with Dr. Boop we'll find out when Brandon can get his stitches removed.

Tomorrow Brandon will begin his radiation. The cranial-spinal radiation is scheduled for 22 treatments followed up by an estimated 8 treatments that will boost the amount to the tumor bed (local control).

Thanks so much for all of your support and prayers,
love, Jeff, Kris & Brandon


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Brandon Update - Sunday afternoon, B is home!

Hi all, well our boy got discharged this morning and we are back at David's and Julie's!! We truly can't believe it - 4 days after surgery!
Once again Brandon has amazed us with his strength and bravery, he is a trooper!! We got back to D&J's and he was off to the races with eating. Fruit, soup, eggs, mashed potatoes and some juice. B is an eater!!!! He is now on the couch watching a cartoon with his blanket his classmates and elementary school made him, see the pic attached!

His chest x-ray was clean this morning, yeah!! No pneumonia!!! Knock on wood and continue the prayers, we're in awe of all of this. Dr. Boop and all certainly delivered another miracle for us, we can't thank them enough!!

We head to St. Jude tomorrow to meet with Dr. Merchant, do his radiation simulation and he will start his radiation treatment on Wednesday! Based on what Dr. Boop saw in the surgery Dr. Merchant is suggesting full brain and spine radiation. We had hoped to avoid this but we have to go with what these guys say, they know what they are doing! This is a full week ahead of schedule from what had previously thought. Dr. Merchant and his team are very happy with Brandon's progress.

Jeanne McDonald left this morning so it is Grams and Pops left in Memphis with us. It was hard to see her leave. Our whole team here from Seattle for us was really amazing. Thanks to Grammy, Papa, Don Rogers, Shelley Otto-Young, Jeanne McDonald and our friends here in Memphis!!!

So now we continue to heal our boy and begin radiation. We love you all, keep up the prayers that the radiation will finish off all of the remaining cells and we will be done with Brain Tumor treatments!

Kris, Jeff and Brandon

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Brandon out of hospital.jpg



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Brandon Update - Friday 2:30 pm

Hi all, Brandon is having another great day! He slept very well last night! Jeff, Jeanne and Kris rotated through the ICU so he had someone by his side all night. Grammy, Papa and Don arrived early in the am and have been handling a lot of the day time stuff so we can catch up on some sleep!!!

This morning he went for his swallow study and did well. He was cleared to eat thick liquid type foods!! He needs to improve the strength of his throat muscles to help push the food down, as he continues to improve we can continue to add more foods. But at this time we are so thankful that today there is no need for a trach, he is able to begin eating and they got the best total resection they could.

He was moved up to the regular floor today!! Just 2 days after surgery, we are so proud of him. We arrived to his room and he had some yogurt, pudding and peaches and is now watching a cartoon. We will pray that we get out of here by early to mid next week.

Dr. Gross came in and told us that they got everything they could see and that there was still likely some residual tumor stuck to the basilar artery and that it would just be too dangerous to try and scrape it off. So she said that they will leave the radiation to take care of that!

Thank you all once again for your support and prayers! The power of prayer has been amazing and obviously work because all of the news we've gotten has been amazing and not what we expected to say the least!! We will update again as soon as we can, we love you all!

"Brandon says hi to all of you and to his class and Mr. Creager at Shelton View"

Kris, Jeff, and Brandon

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Brandon in bed.jpg

Brandon Eating.jpg



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Brandon Update - 10/27 Noon

Hi all, well we sure are so very proud of Brandon! Lots of progress this morning.

The doctors came in this morning and told us that the post surgery MRI is clean!!! Oh my gosh, that is the best news yet!! We did not expect a full resection and Dr. Boop was able to do it!
So no residual disease!!!

Brandon first had his intubation breathing tube removed then had an ENT scope of his throat and vocal cord, there is a lot of swelling but the ENT doctor said his chances are good of not needing a Trach! That is so HUGE, thank you for your prayers on this one, we are elated and will know for sure if he will need one or not in the next day or so.

Last night Jeff, myself, Jeanne, and Shelley (Otto) Young took turns sitting with Brandon while the rest of us got some much needed sleep. When Jeanne and myself were down with him he managed to signal to us that he wanted to write us a note by using his finger to write in the air. Jeanne held a piece of paper for him and he wrote all by himself "WHEN CAN I GET OUT OF HERE", amazing! Jeff and I are so proud of him. He is being such a big, strong and brave boy. The ENT doc said "he is the best pediatric patient she has ever had". He continued to write us notes throughout the night and now can finally talk!

This morning after getting the intubtation tube out he asked for his Game Boy and has been playing off and on this morning. He is also happy to be back in his Spiderman boxers after getting his catheter out!

Once again our prayers have been answered! Thanks again for all of your support, we can feel it all the way out here in Memphis!

Kris, Jeff and Brandon


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Brandon Update - Out of Surgery

We spoke to Dr. Boop about 20 minutes ago [around 1:10 PM CDT]. He said that he was very pleased with the resection and that it went well. They were able to resect 100% of what they could see - this is incredible and not what we expected! Two individual pieces of tumor recurrence were removed, the one we knew about and a new piece near the 6th cranial (facial) nerve. They also drained and removed the cyst that was pushing against the brain stem. Brandon's vitals remained stable throughout the surgery and the blood vessels remained intact. During the surgery they determined that he had been aspirating and has developed a pneumonia. He developed a fever towards the end of surgery and they started him on antibiotics. They will keep his lungs and airway safe by keeping him intubated for 2-3 days to let him rest and let the docs take care of the pneumonia.

Prayers for recovery from pneumonia and for no trach. The ENT docs said there is a possibility he will need a trach but time will tell while in the ICU.

We can't thank you enough for your support and prayers today! We will keep you updated as we can.

Jeff, Kris and Brandon


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Brandon Update - 10/24/05

Hi all, many of you have asked for an address of where we will be staying.

499 Carysbrook Cove
Memphis, TN 38120-2623

This is our friends David and Julie Douglas' home. We are so lucky to have them and to be able to stay with them during our time.
Brandon loves mail. Post card, card, whatever. Just a nice thing for him to look forward to each day!

Today was a great day and an emotional one of many goodbyes. Hard to be leaving and doing this once again but we feel so filled up by so much support and love,
thank you all!

K, J and B


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Brandon Update - October 22 - Surgery

Hi all, we are getting ready to head to Memphis on Monday for Brandon's surgery on Wednesday the 26th. We of course are scared but know we've left no stone unturned when helping to decide with the doctors on how to best treat Brandon. He is doing better on the steroids. We can tell he is dealing with his emotions the best he can but it has been a tough week for him. We are so proud of Brandon, he is such a wonderful kid, full of strength as he continues forward on this journey. As his parents he has made this so much easier for us!

We will send out an update from the hospital on the 26th as soon as we can. We know there are so many of you out there that are praying for him and sending good thoughts to Memphis for him on that day. We want you all to know how much your love and support carries us through. In this journey you are all blessings we get along the way as we let you all lift us up with your love and support for our son.

We have been truly inspired by your support with the Brandon's Goal wristbands. It amazes us how far reaching our son's journey has been when we hear about people supporting Brandon we've never met. This journey with Brandon has truly shown us how prevalent the giving spirit is. It is humbling to be on the receiving side of so much support. When Brandon got well it felt so great to start our non-profit and help other families. Now Jeanne McDonald and her family are supporting us with the Brandon's Goal wristbands as they go through their fight against Hannah's tumor. It really is the generosity of others that makes this world turn round for us. So thank you to Jeanne and her family and to all of you for rallying behind Brandon as he enters what will be a difficult time.

We love you all and will do our best to get out timely updates as we go through surgery next week.

Jeff, Kris and Brandon


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Brandon Update - October 9


Hi All, hope you're well. We've settled on a surgery date, it will be October 26th back at St. Jude. We are very scared but feel we are making the very best choice under the guidance of the very best doctors. His recovery should be about a week if all goes well. We still need to make a decision on the radiation, chemotherapy and treatment post surgery. We are still a bit torn here but are consulting two other radiation oncologists to help us with this decision. Brandon is becoming a bit symptomatic, we're not sure what the tumor is doing but he is having some headaches and extremity issues. So Children's sent us home with some steroids and pain meds that we started on Saturday. We hope this will keep him comfortable until we go. This morning we can see the effects of the steroids - lots of energy!

Brandon's 1st grade class made him a quilt with all of their handprints to take back with him to St Jude. They also made a photo album so he can look at his friends every day.

We love you all!
Kris, Jeff and Brandon


(click below for a larger image)



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Brandon Update - October 1

Hi all, we are back home.
Pretty heavy 3 days of meetings but Kris and I feel like we have a lot of information and will continue to consult our second opinions. NO SURGERY THIS WED. We decided this was too quick and Dr. Merchant said we could safely wait for a couple of weeks until he undergoes surgery. So likely the week of the 17th. The cyst is bigger and needs to be dealt with. The tumor has not grown but is presenting differently. We will wait to talk with the surgeon about this but there is a chance to the surgery could be a bit easier because of this new presentation.

We can't begin to tell you how full our hearts our with your wearing of Brandon's bands. This gives us a circle of support and solidarity we need right now. Brandon's face lit up when Jeanne gave him his and he is so proud, so thank you.

We will update you again once we know more!
Much love and friendship,
Kris, Jeff and Brandon


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Brandon's Wrist Bands update

Hi all, Jeanne wanted me to forward this info to explain sizes and such to make this easier. We were so touched by how busy Jeanne has been today with your requests, thank you! It warms our hearts to have your support. Brandon is VERY excited about you all wearing his bands.

Contact Jeanne at

Make your order request for the # of bands you want and sizes:
Small - child ages 2-7
Medium - older child, teen and average adult
Large - men and loose fitting

Include your address to have them mailed if you live out of town or you can pick them up from Jeanne in Mukilteo or Anne D. in Bothell.

Make checks payable to "Jeff Brauns Family Donation Account". You can mail payment to Jeanne McDonald at 12563 63rd PL W Mukilteo, WA 98275

Thanks again, we so appreciate it! The $$ raised from this will help us with our stay here in Memphis for Brandon's surgery and radiation.

Much love and friendship,
Jeff, Kris and Brandon



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Brandon Update - September 28

Hi all, we're in Memphis and had a big day of meetings with the surgeon and radiation oncologist here at St. Jude. The consensus right now is that Brandon WILL NEED surgery for his tumor recurrence. It is up against the brain stem which creates some scary risks, BUT, the surgeon here is excellent and although there is a 10-15% chance Brandon could come out with some deficits he gives us a lot of hope he will do fine. The deficits could be needing a feeding tube again, a trach and there is a chance of a brain stem stroke. We are scared, confused and more confident after our meetings. It was a day of mixed emotions but we our getting our legs under us. We have agreed with the docs that if the MRI this Friday shows no growth then we would wait and scan again at the end of October. If it shows growth then we would likely want to move forward with a surgery date. We do have one for next Wed. the 5th but that is moving a little quicker than our heads and hearts are able to. But as we all know this journey has its ups and downs and you never seem to be on the same road for very long, so even though we think this is the plan today it could change!

There is a risk to waiting for growth, but it does not feel right to put Brandon through this now if he has no symptoms. He seems to be doing great, might be experiencing some slight symptoms but it is so hard to tell.

BRANDON'S WRIST BANDS - our good friends the McDonalds have graciously ordered wrist bands to support Brandon in his fight against his tumor. They are dark blue and have "Brandon's Goal" on them! You can order them from Jeanne for $5 by e-mailing or calling her. There are small, medium and large sizes. We can't wait to wear them to show our strength and hope for our boy. Thanks to the McDonalds for doing this.
Jeanne's # is 425-315-9775 E-mail is

Thanks for all of your support!
Much love and friendship,
Jeff, Kris and Brandon


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Brandon Update 9/22/05

Hi all, St. Jude Tumor board met yesterday and they want to move ahead with surgery and radiation. Jeff and I are scared but know that this is what we have to do to try and get Brandon well. The surgery in the words of the surgeon will be "formidable". We have all the confidence in the world in these guys. We will fly back next week for 3 days of tests for Brandon. We will come back home for a short week then fly back again for the surgery and 6 weeks of radiation.

We told Brandon this morning. Hard to read him, a few tears, will really miss school then asked to watch a cartoon. We know he will once again lead us courageously through this!

We will update you with dates as we know. We will again lean on your prayers and support as this will not be easy.

Much love and friendship,
Kris, Jeff and Brandon



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Brandon Update and Hannah MRI - September 19

Hi all, great news for Hannah McDonald and her family! The MRI showed her tumor being stable!! That is great news at this time for them, we are so happy. Thank you for your prayers.

We are still in limbo with Brandon's course of treatment, thus he still does not know. We will go to St. Jude next week for 3 days of tests, from there it could be surgery ASAP, a week later or a month later, don't know yet. They will talk about him at tumor board at St. Jude this Wed. and then call us with their recommendation.

Thanks for all of your prayers and Eagle stories! Love, Kris, Jeff and Brandon

Love, Kris, Jeff and Brandon



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Brandon update - September 15 MRI

Hi all, spine was clean! Yeah, some good news!!
Children's tumor board met and the call we got was hard as we learn more about the high risk area where his tumor is located and the gravity of the decisions Jeff and I will have to make. Surgery still feels like the best option but how do you do that when you know what the risks are?? We are so lucky to have 2 of the best hospitals and staff in the country working so hard for him, they care a ton about our son. We will keep you posted, looks like back to St. Jude on the 28, 29 and 30th of this month then possible surgery the following week or week after that, we just don't know yet.

Please continue your prayers for Hannah and Sydney,
We love you all,
Kris, Jeff and Brandon



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Brandon update - September 13 MRI

Hi all, Brandon had his brain MRI this morning and it came back stable compared to the scan on the 18th of August. This is good news and we are relieved that the sense of urgency has not grown. We will still go back to St. Jude at the end of this month for another MRI and a PET Scan and Lumbar puncture. Dr. Merchant is still of the thought we need to go ahead with the surgery the 1st week of October but at the same time said the surgeon might feel it is too small and we would scan again at the end of October. So a little "Wait and Watch" right now, but we are fine with that.

Brandon did great doing the MRI without being sedated. His friend Hannah gave him a little tip about asking for twice as much numbing agent for the IV, it worked!! Thanks Hannah! He had to ask me if the needle was in yet!

Please pray for Hannah and her family as her scan is on the 19th, next week, at 11am. We pray specifically for shrinkage of the tumor for such a special girl and family!

Both Children's and St. Jude will meet this week to discuss Brandon so we will update you as we know more! Thanks for all of your prayers and eagle sightings!

Love, Kris, Jeff and Brandon



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Brandon Update - September 7

Hi all, just an update to keep you all informed.   Brandon's next MRI will be here in Seattle at Children's on the 13th and 14th.   Brain the first day, spine the next day.  From there if the tumor has grown then St. Jude would like to do another surgery and then radiation.  Although we feel confident this is the treatment we will choose we have not closed the doors to using a chemo agent first.  But with Ependymomas chemo really only buys time and Dr. Merchant feels Brandon's best shot at surviving this is with surgery and radiation.  Doing radiation again is unbelievably scary due to the potential side effects but at this point it offers the best curative hope!  We received second opinions from almost everyone so it is time to sift through the info and weigh the pros and cons of each proposed treatment plan.  This weighs very heavily on Jeff and I because it will ultimately be our decision as to what we do.  After talking with Dr. Merchant yesterday I do have a renewed sense of confidence that Brandon will be able to do this again.  Children's is taking great care of us and offering a lot of hope with some new chemo concoctions that are relatively new but showing some promise.
B is loving 1st grade and doing well!  He has a wonderful teacher, Mr. Craeger.  The pics below are of our Chelan trip with the McDonalds last weekend.  We had an absolute ball and came home quite tired.  Great sign of a great vacation.  Other than that B has no side effects from all of this and is the same ol' kid.
We love you all, keep lookin up, we are!
Kris, Jeff and Brandon


Chelan Trip Labor Day Weekend 2005


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Brandon Update - August 31

Hi all, today is Brandon's first day of 1st grade, he is so excited! He is downstairs making waffles with Daddy, one of their favorite things to do together!

We had a GREAT time on vacation! So glad I met up with them as I was afraid I would not go considering the state of mind I was in. Thanks to my friend Jeanne for getting me down to the airport and on the curb! Brandon and his buddies, Jack and Ryan, had the best time just being boys and swimming a ton! Dan, Jeff, Shelly and I were able to visit a few wineries and enjoyed dinners on our deck at sunset, but mostly we enjoyed watching and playing with the boys!

We are starting to get our legs back under us and crawl back from the shock of this all. It feels hard sitting on this right now with out taking action and without Brandon knowing. But telling him now would do no good as we do not have any answers to the numerous questions our very smart and inquisitive boy would have. We should know more next week or the week after. I am not sold on a surgery and radiation right away if we can find a treatment we can do here that could be less risky and toxic to Brandon. But right now I think most roads lead to Memphis, we will see. We will leave that work up to the docs as we can't change this nor control it. What we can do is not let this cripple our days and enjoy the time we have, we will let the docs do their jobs and we will enjoy our favorite job, being Brandon's mom and dad.

We absolutely appreciate all of the e-mails and calls, you all got us through the first time and we will count on you all again this time. This feels harder because we know so much more so it is hitting faster, with more uncertainty and with more information this time around. A good and bad in light of this crappy disease. But, Brandon is doing great, no side effects and has had such a great summer!

We will keep you updated when we know more. Keep Brandon in your prayers as always. Include Hannah and Sydney, these 2 gals are battling hard and we expect all 3 of our kids to be celebrating remission together, year after year. HOPE is huge, I am getting it back and expect us all to ride a large wave of it as we enter a tougher battle this time for our boy.

We are strengthened by all of the eagle reports and now have a picture of 1 on our fridge from Jim and Judy Otto, they saw it from their deck this weekend!!!

Love, friendship and hope!
Kris, Jeff and Brandon

(click below for a larger image)


Brandon & Ryan - Columbia.jpg

New Melones Lake.jpg

First Day of School.jpg

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Brandon Update - MRI Results

Hi all, I met with Dr. Geyer at Children's and received the final report from St. Jude. At this time it does look like we are dealing with a recurrence and progressive disease. Dr. Geyer said he is quite concerned and he and Dr. Merchant are working together to present us with the best treatment options and plan. Brandon's next MRI will be here on September 6th and then again at St. Jude sometime the week of the 26th.

We are sad and scared. I am really at a loss for words but wanted you all to know. Jeff and Brandon headed down to CA for vacation on Monday and I am flying down today. I sent out 3 notebooks of his file and scans for 2nd opinions and will look forward to those docs giving us their plans as well.

I wish this e-mail brought better news. Please pray for our boy, Hannah McDonald and Sydney Coxon. Look up for an eagle for us.

We love you all,
Kris, Jeff and Brandon

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Brandon Update - August 21

Hi all, we are trying to stay prepared and a bit ahead of this before Bandon's next MRI that will likely be in Mid-Late Sept now instead of early October, I can't wait that long!

So, just like 2 years ago we are putting out a request for a house sitter from Mid September or Early October for about 8-10 weeks. We will not know if this is needed until Brandon's next scan, but from that day we would only have about 1 week to prepare for this!

So if any of you have a lead on this please let us know!
Kris & Jeff

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Brandon Update - MRI Results 8/19/05

Hi all, we returned home last night from St. Jude with some startling news. Yesterday on the MRI scans an area of enhancement showed up that was not there before. Needless to say we are both shocked at this as was Dr. Merchant. It is adjacent to his residual disease that is thankfully still stable.

They do not know if this new area of enhancement is a recurrence of tumor growth or a cyst full of fluid. If it is a recurrence that is not good and Brandon will have to have another surgery and quite possibly more radiation. If it is a cyst he would likely require a surgery and that would hopefully be it. They honestly do not know what it is but in the medical profession they have to treat it like a recurrence. We are quite scared and have not told Brandon yet. He is to start 1st grade in 12 days and we want that to be his focus as he is so excited!

Both Dr. Boop (neurosurgeon) and Dr. Merchant (radiation oncologist) called tonight and said they honestly don't know what it is. It is suspicious but they don't want to jump into a surgery without knowing for sure. So the plan is to bring Brandon back at the beginning of October for an MRI, PET scan and have the OR booked should they need to do another brain surgery. From there we would take it one day at a time depending on if it is tumor growth or just a cyst.

It is scary and unsettling being back in this place. But we have such a great team at St. Jude and we will meet with the team at Children's next week after they review the scans as well. We especially appreciate all of you, our team of love and support. Many of you have lifted us up yesterday and today and we thank you so much for that.

We pray in our hearts it is just a cyst. If you want something specific to pray for that would be it! Today our good friend Jeanne McDonald (Hannah's mom) was over and we were talking in our front yard. We looked up and saw 4 eagles flying overhead. We all took that as a sign that he will be ok and it has allowed me to release a big sigh before I head off to bed. So please pray for our boy and look up for an eagle!

We love you all,
Kris, Jeff and Brandon

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Brandon Update - August 14, MRI at St. Jude

Hi all, we hope you're well!

All is good here. Enjoying our summer as it winds down.

We will be heading off to ST. JUDE next week for Brandon's MRI. We feel very positive about it but always have the pre-MRI jitters and anxious tummy. We fly out Tuesday the 16th and will be back on the 18th. We always look forward to seeing David and Julie, Michelle, Cassandra, of course Dr. Merchant and all of our friends in Memphis! Brandon is excited to see his southern girlfriends, Mimi and Ginny! Pray for a stable scan and even better, NO RESIDUAL TUMOR!!!

Brandon has had a great summer! He has done a few camps, played with friends, Grammy and has enjoyed hanging with mom! He has even spent a few days at work with Jeff and had a ball! He will start 1st grade at the end of this month after we return from a weeks vacation down near Sacramento!

Sydney Coxon just had her most recent MRI and it came back stable! Keep up your prayers for her and her family!

Hannah and her family went on her wish trip, a Disney Cruise out of Florida. Continue your prayers for Hannah and her family. Her next MRI is September 14th.

we are going to organize a Friends Helping Friends Event where we can as a LARGE group participate in this event to help raise money for Children's to support those families that can't pay their medical bills. More info to come soon, for now SAVE THE DATE of October 9th!

We've done several events this summer to raise $$ for other families and feel so blessed to have the support of all of our friends and to be able to help others. The Golf Event raised close to $27,000 for Sydney Coxon and her family! THANK YOU!!

Jeff and Brandon flew to California to participate in 2 "Dream Home Giveaway" fundraisers for St. Jude in Chico and Bakersfield. Each raised over $1 Million!! They had great dad and son bonding time and helped raise alot of $$$!!

Love to you all!
Kris, Jeff and Brandon

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Brandon Update - June 28, 2005

Hi all, had to share this with you as I looked at the calendar this morning.

July 3rd will mark 2 years out from ending treatment for Brandon, wow! My eyes are filled with tears as I type this. This really is such a HUGE milestone for him. The doctors consider it VERY BIG as well. Once an Ependymoma child gets 2 years out the chances of it coming back go down. I'm not sure by what percentages but Dr. Merchant said that 2 years out from ending treatment is a great day! So, the 3rd represents a lot for our guy!

We are so very proud of him, I can't even begin to put in words how proud, and typically I'm not at a loss for them but this morning I am. He is doing great with his shots and he said the other day that he does not want surgery for his face. What a kid, what a great kid!

We love all of you for what you represent in Brandon's journey as well! We have the golf tournament coming up in a little more than a week, and we are so pleased to be supporting Sydney this year. But, I know that day will bring back such great memories for us as we look back on the love and support we received that day 2 years ago as well!

Have a wonderful day!
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Brandon Update - June 2, 2005

Hi all, just an update on our guy and all the happenings in our home!  Brandon is about to finish his first year of school and he has had such a great time!  He is really enjoying learning and all of the friends he has made.  We have enjoyed it as well watching our guy grow up, gain more independence and amaze us at each new fact he learns!  He keeps us on our toes!

GROWTH HORMONE - Brandon started his GH shots on Tuesday.  He is a trooper and we are very proud of him!  The dose is given using a cool pen-like device that Brandon has already mastered.  It will be a shot every day for the next 10-12 years and likely his life.  His pituitary gland was affected by the radiation so it does not signal his body to make enough growth hormone for itself.  He has not grown in 8 months.  So he is getting it replaced by a drug called Nutropin.  We should see some results here soon.  It is amazing what he is aware of - the nurse asked him if he knew why he needed to take the medicine, he just shrugged.  So she asked him if he realized if he was one of the shortest kids in his class.  IMMEDIATELY he went into how he did and that he used to be one of the tallest but is now the shortest along with his best friend Zach, sorry Zach!  He went from being around the 80th percentile down to the 15th.  So, he is on the road to getting taller and building up his muscle tone and strength!

FACIAL PARALYSIS - This one just kills us.  In the last 3 months he has had 4 episodes of crying because he is embarrassed of his face (I can't even type this without tears).  Anyway, it typically happens when he is in front of the mirror and says that kids talk about his eye and mouth not moving or opening correctly and that he is sad and it makes him cry.  He did it again tonight at the dinner table with Jeff and I.  So, I told him we can look into the surgeries to correct this.  We were hoping we would not have to take this course, but I think possibly we were in denial.  Now that he is in a large community of kids it just makes it all that more real for him.  This is not a certain future of a surgery, it is an option but we will take this one day at a time and figure out what to do.

VOICE THERAPY - On a great note, he is being fitted this summer for an Obturator.  It is a retainer like device he will wear in his mouth to gap the opening in his soft palate and the roof of his mouth.  This should make him less nasally and have more volume!

FRIENDS HELPING FRIENDS - What an amazing few months it has been for us so far.  Jeff and I can't tell you how much this non-profit has blessed our lives.  We have taken a dark time in our lives and turned into good, something we really wanted to and needed to do all along.  We have been able to help families and institutions, bring communities together and even, more importantly, give kids a way to help other kids, one of our core philosophies.  We feel so blessed to be invited into the lives of other families to support them and at the same time get an immeasurable gift back from them.  It has absolutely filled our hearts to be able to help and become friends with some very inspiring and amazing families.

GOLF TOURNEY - The Golf Event and Auction is coming up for Sydney and her family.  We are so proud to be able to do this for them and pray daily for Sydney's recovery and healing, please keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers too!  Sydney is making some items for the auction that I am sure we will all have bidding wars over!!

KIDS PLAYIN' FOR KIDS - My passion of course and what a great way for kids to get together and help another child.  Our first event was for Hannah McDonald.  We know this family because I coach Hannah's older sister in soccer.  The event for Hannah was amazing, with over 100 kids playing soccer and $2,500 raised.  I can't begin to tell you how this family has touched my heart, and how much I enjoy spending time with them not only in the capacity of lending support from our experience but also as new friends.  Jeff, Brandon and I enjoy being swept up in their clan of 4 kids, a dog, cat, and Mark & Jeanne.  Quite the change from our little family of 3!  Hannah captures your heart strings with her strength and character.  She is so strong and has really gone through the last several months with a lot of courage.  Her life changed in a heartbeat and she has handled it so amazingly well. Please keep Hannah in your thoughts and prayers as well.  So I guess selfishly we have benefited many times over from starting this non-profit.  We get to put our experience and support to good use but we have made new friends that have given us back so much more.

BRAIN TUMOR SUPPORT GROUP - We were asked by Children's hospital to start a family support group.  So beginning June 16th we will meet once per month to facilitate meetings to give families a place to share, learn and educate in this world of pediatric brain tumors.  When we started FHF this past year we had no idea where it would take us, but I can tell you it has taken us exactly to where we want to go.  It is cathartic, healing, inspiring, moving and motivating.  I would never have put us here looking forward from 2 years ago.  I can tell you that all of you can be thanked as well. Had we not had such a wonderful community supporting us we may not have felt the inspiration to pay forward all that we received.
FAIRBANKS ST JUDE FUNDRAISER - Back in late April Jeff and Brandon (Kris wanted to go but was sick) took a trip to Fairbanks (their first time to Alaska!) to speak about St Jude and share our story.  Both had a good quick trip up with Lacey and enjoyed visiting a new place.  Brandon liked visiting Santa's Workshop at the North Pole while Jeff got a chance to view the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline.  As always, so glad to be able to support St Jude. (click for photos from the trip)

Wow, so this was a long one but lots to tell!  We again feel so blessed, lucky and thankful for where Brandon is today.  We have been given a lot and could not be more humbled by the experiences we are now gaining.  Brandon's next MRI will be in August at St. Jude, then we will expect to go to 2x per year here at Children's and only 1x per year out in Memphis!  YEAHH Brandon, way to go!

Much love and friendship to you all, from one very happy family!
Brandon, Kris and Jeff
(scroll down for pictures)

Friends Helping Friends 2005 GOLF/DINNER-AUCTION EVENT 
Saturday, July 9th
Register Now!  
®   Donate an Item   ®   Event Details

Ashley & Brandon
"No, we're not cold"
Brandon on a school
field trip to a farm
Size me up Dad!
Before a Storm game
Brandon goes for 2!
First time across
on the
monkey bars
Kids Kickin' 4 Kids Event


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Brandon Update - May 8

OK all, I love this man! Dr. Merchant is so incredible and always knows how to calm my fears. This last MRI had me unsettled as there had always been some change for the good. This last one with no change made me so nervous! (He e-mailed back less than an hour after I e-mailed him on a Saturday!!) So straight out of the mans mouth, or I guess his hands is his post below! My gosh, I am in such a good mood tonight!!! YEAHHH!!!

Brandon got to be a bat boy yesterday at Shelley Pflugraths (Elliott's) softball game where she coaches for Wenatchee Valley CC. See pics below! He had a ball and loved hanging at Shell and Marcs last night!

Love to you all! Kris

-----Original Message-----
From: Merchant, Thomas
Sent: Saturday, May 07, 2005 1:49 PM
To: Kris Brauns
Subject: RE: Brandon Brauns questions

It's often difficult to compare scans performed in different places in terms of enhancement because of the types of imaging sequences performed, etc. I am not worried. He's doing well and we can detail the imaging findings when you are here in a few months. He will be 2 years out in just a few more months and that is a great milestone. TM

Thomas E. Merchant, DO, PhD

Chief, Division of Radiation Oncology
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
332 North Lauderdale Street
Memphis, Tennessee 38105

-----Original Message-----
From: Kris Brauns

Sent: Saturday, May 07, 2005 2:58 PM
To: Merchant, Thomas
Subject: RE: Brandon Brauns questions

Dr. M, thanks for the call yesterday, as soon as I got off of the phone with you more questions came up! of course!!

1. Since we had seen less enhancement and shrinking before does this MRI of no change worry you?

2. Point blank, does this concern you, not concern you or are we cruising along in spite of what is left and enhancing and just have to wait and watch?

Thank you, for some reason I am feeling more unsettled today than I have with previous MRI's.

Have a good weekend!

Brandon and Shelley
Bringing back a bat 
Team Photo 
Guess who's driving

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Brandon Update - April 28 - MRI results!

Hi all, Brandon had his latest scan on Tuesday and we met with Dr. Geyer yesterday.  Official word from the doc here at Children's is no change.  That is good and we are of course thrilled!  But...since all previous scans have shown shrinking and less enhancement we of course felt a bit let down. How we view the scans from each hospital is different.  Since our last scan was at St. Jude in Feb. we will send off this one from Children's to let them compare. We know the news will be the same or hopefully even better. There was a precarious slide that showed some brighter enhancement but Dr. Geyer assured us that it was just the angle of the slice or even how the contrast had gone into Brandon.  Brandon reached a great milestone making it 2 years out. His chances of it coming back will always be there but they are going down daily!

We've had quite a busy Spring!  First was the annual KMPS St Jude Radiothon.  Next, on March 14 we celebrated Brandon's 6th birthday!!   Two weeks ago we took a spring break trip to Disneyland with the Young family and had a blast!  Brandon was going 120% every day of the trip!

Other news:
We got the results of the endocrine testing.  All other tests we good but his hormone was 59 and the low end of normal is 88, so it appears that he will have to go on growth hormone.  These will be daily shots for a long time if not life. So, we will get a second opinion but we trust his endocrine doc immensely and are confident this will help him!  His weight and height readings indicate that his growth has slipped from 50th percentile to 10th percentile.

Brandon will get fitted next month for an Obturator - a retainer-like device with a plastic plug that extends back into the throat to help close the soft palate.  This device should improve his speech.  He is so excited to "get his voice back" as he says!

Brandon and Kris will head to Wenatchee next weekend to catch Shelly (Elliott) Pflugrath's college team's softball game. Brandon gets to be the bat boy, he is SOOOO excited! He asks me so many questions everyday about it!

We are off to Fairbanks, Alaska this weekend for a St. Jude fundraiser. Up and back in literally 36 hours but none of us have been there so we are all excited!

That is all for now!
Love and friendship to you all!!!
Kris, Jeff and Brandon

(scroll down for pictures)

Friends Helping Friends 2005 GOLF/DINNER-AUCTION EVENT 
Saturday, July 9th
Register Now!  
®   Donate an Item   ®   Event Details

KMPS St Jude Radiothon -
Brandon & Stubbs
KMPS St Jude Radiothon -
Brandon & Flo
Celebrating his 6th birthday
with his cousins
A 'Brandon-powered' ride at
Knott's Berry Farm 

more Disneyland pictures


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Brandon Update - April 18 - FHF 2005 Golf Event and other Fundraisers!

Hi all, we are excited to announce the official launch of Friends Helping Friends as a state of Washington Non-Profit Corporation!   We are also in the process of applying for Federal 501(c)(3) status.

We will continue to host the annual Golf Event to raise money for a family or families in need of assistance during their journey to heal their children of cancer.  We will also support those institutions that support them including Children's Hospital and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  Other events will include "KIDS KICKIN 4 KIDS", a soccer clinic to give kids the opportunity to be involved in a charity helping other children and the National Cancer Survivors Day Event held the 1st Sunday of each June.  All of these events will be listed on our website.

You can now go to to preview the site and register for the 2005 FHF Golf Tournament and Auction/Dinner on  Saturday, July  9, 2005.  If you remember last year it filled up and we had to turn registrants away!   This year's primary benefactor will be Sydney Coxon.  Sydney lives with her family in Lake Forest Park and attends Brookside Elementary.  She was diagnosed early this year with a brainstem glioma.  She is currently under going treatment through Children's Hospital and her parents are actively researching additional treatments she may qualify for.  We have a link from the FHF website to Sydney's site.

We are using an online registration donated by, thank you Thriva!  Please do not hesitate to e-mail us as you register should you have questions!

We are so proud and honored to be a part of Friends Helping Friends and look forward to sharing this excitement with you as we support families and those institutions that support them!

Love and Friendship to you all!

Friends Helping Friends (Brauns, Camerons, Millers and Pflugraths)  

Friends Helping Friends website:

Brandon's website: 

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Brandon Update - March 10


Hi all, if you are KMPS listeners then tune in on Friday and Saturday afternoon. They have their annual St. Jude Radiothon and Brandon will be there. Last year he was on air with Flo for 6 hours and had a ball!

Listen in and see if you can catch him on air!


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Brandon Update - February 10


Hi all, were back!  All is great, here is some info!!!
2 areas of concern, but nothing Brandon can't handle.

MRI - Brandon had it on Monday. Dr. Merchant e-mailed Monday night and said "Scans look great, in addition the residual tumor is smaller and enhancing less", meaning it is dying off! The residual piece is 1/2 the size it was this time last year. Dr. M is very happy with how Brandon is doing!!

Psych Test - he did great, same IQ and he performed very consistently with last time, so all is good there!

Physical Therapy - looked good here too! Little Right Sided deficit, which is weird since his left side was damaged. He is also VERY TIGHT in his calf and Achilles, she thinks this could be from the chemo, one of the drugs, Vincristine, can be damaging. But nothing a little stretching could not help with!!

Occupational Therapy - good here too! She gave him some exercises to do to help with his coordination, but strength is wonderful!

Speech - his vocal cord is still moving(spastically), yeah!!! We are doing some things here in Seattle to help with his soft palate not closing, thus making his voice quiet. We will keep you updated!

Eye Clinic - eyes and vision are great and his left lid is stronger!!

Height and Weight - here is where he is slipping. He has not made much progress in 6 months. We knew this could possibly happen. So his growth hormone is low as is his cortisol. So we will make an appt. with Children's to do Endocrine testing, very involved with blood work and being in the hospital. If he has to do growth hormone replacement then we will cross that bridge when we get there. The cortisol we should be able to solve here at home.

We had a GREAT time with Julie and David and Brandon got to hang with his girlfriends Mimi and Ginny. Michelle, his favorite nurse came over for dinner and then we went to her place to see her 10 new little pups the next day. Michelle is no longer at St. Jude but she called the scheduler to make sure they put Brandon with Cassandra his other favorite nurse for his MRI!

All in all a GREAT TRIP!! We are once again so proud of Brandon and renewed with more hope! 2 years out from Treatment ending will be this July, I think crossing that bridge will feel so good!

Don't forget to save the date on Saturday July 9th for the 2nd annual Friends Helping Friends Golf Event!

Love to you all!

Kris, Jeff and Brandon!

Brandon on "his trike" at the front entrance
Brandon & Cassandra
Brandon with Dr. Merchant and his nurse Christy
Brandon, Mimi, & Ginny
Brandon, Kris & Jeff with Michelle and David
Enjoying lunch between appointments


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Brandon Update - February 2


Hi all, we hope you're well!

We are off to St. Jude again this Saturday the 5th for Brandon's next check up. The regular MRI, therapy check-ups, ENT for the vocal cord, an eye check, and a psych eval. Of course so excited to see David and Julie, Michelle, Dr. Merchant and all of Brandon's friends. Anxious once again while in this one to two-year out mark.

This Friday will be 2 years to the day from when he was first diagnosed. There is not a minute of that day we will ever forget. But Brandon's health and happiness today can make the 4th seem like decades ago.

Once again, keep the prayers coming, we will e-mail as soon as we get home on the 10th.

Brandon, Kris and Jeff


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Click for Brandon's 2008 & 2009 Updates

Click for Brandon's 2006 & 2007 Updates

Click here for Brandon's 2004 Updates

Click here for Brandon's 2003 Updates