When spunky Brandon was just five years old, his parents noticed that he was running an unusually high temperature. When he started complaining about severe headaches and body pain, they knew that something was very wrong.
The family headed to Golisano Children’s Hospital. Adjacent to HealthPark Medical Center in Fort Myers, it is the only children’s hospital between Tampa and Miami that offers lifesaving pediatric and oncology services for children from infancy through the age of 18.
Upon arrival, Brandon received a blood transfusion. The subsequent lab results showed leukemia, and immediately their lives turned upside down.
One of the biggest challenges for the Gutierrez family was that Maria, Brandon’s mom, was six-months pregnant with another little boy. This made it difficult for Maria; she needed to balance her health, the health of her unborn son, and Brandon’s emotional and physical needs as he endured intensive cancer treatments. Maria’s inner strength shone during the entire experience, and she gave birth to a healthy baby boy while also caring for Brandon.
Thankfully, Maria didn’t have to walk that journey alone. The care team at Golisano Children’s Hospital understands how demanding a cancer diagnosis can be for the whole family, and they offer a variety of supportive services that are aimed at reducing stress and coping with the reality of cancer. For families that cannot afford the cost of those services, the financial assistance offered by Barbara’s Friends makes a huge difference in fighting the diagnosis that no family should ever have to face alone.
Even though he had a tough, uphill battle, Brandon stayed strong too. Three years later, his cancer entered remission and he returned to school. In fact, this rambunctious nine-year-old recently had his port removed, a clear sign of his victory over cancer. Now, the sky’s the limit for Brandon.
Brandon will be one of many childhood cancer survivors that will represent Barbara’s Friends during this year’s virtual Clips for Cancer fundraiser at 8 AM on Friday, September 11. He is excited to shave the head of Maury Morejon.
Maury is a firefighter for the Lehigh Acres Fire Control & Rescue District. “Being a father and having family members experience the devastating effects of cancer, I have felt the need to support Barbara’s Friends in the same way it supports these patients and their family,” said Maury. “I feel honored to participate for the third year in a row and to be part of the overwhelming support this event brings. Please help us achieve our goal and help these kids and their families through the tough time.”
Donate online to raise support for Barbara’s Friends and help future patients like Brandon byclicking here.