Family hopeful as 3-year-old battles cancer

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — A Sequim family is fighting for its future:

Their 3-year-old son, Brody Neal, is fighting brain cancer and began chemotherapy while his mother delivered his younger sister prematurely.

The Neal family — parents Shane and Alicia, 3-year-old Brody, 1-year-old Taylor and 3-week-old Myha — spent the past week at Seattle Children’s Hospital living in a travel trailer while Brody began his first week of chemotherapy, said Kristy Traband, a family friend acting as spokeswoman for the family while they are out of town.

“So far through this all, Brody has been very strong and has recovered very well for what he has been through,” said his mother, Alicia Kuznek-Neal.

“I know he is strong enough to overcome this, and with positive energy and all the love and support of family and friends, we will fight and survive this cancer.”

The family’s ordeal began April 26 when Brody woke up in the family car, began vomiting and had chills.

An hour later, he was lethargic, became incoherent and didn’t know where he was or who he was, his mother said.

He was taken to Olympic Medical Center, but medical personnel could not find the cause, she said.

Follow-up testing with a pediatrician also showed no results.

In June, the family was referred to a neurologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, where a series of brain scans revealed a large brain tumor, which was removed Sept. 6.

“It was such an unusual tumor that they sent it to numerous specialists around the country for a second opinion,” Alicia said.

About a week later, the family met with an oncologist and learned that Brody had brain cancer.

His mother reported that Brody was diagnosed with either a “primitive neuroectodermal embriogenic tumor” or a mixed glioma tumor.

Because of the complexity of the cancerous cells found, doctors aren’t certain exactly which kind of brain cancer Brody has, and whether it is at stage 3 or 4, she said.

As the stress of Brody’s illness continued as chemotherapy approached, Alicia, due to give birth to the couple’s third child in late October, went into early labor, Traband said.

Myha Neal was born Sept. 27, just days before Brody was scheduled to begin chemotherapy, she said.

Traband said the family is living in a travel trailer outside of the hospital during the stay at Children’s Hospital, and some members of the family will need to fly to Boston or Houston with Brody so that he can get more advanced treatment.

There are several opportunities for the community to help the family, she said.

Donations to the family can be made at http://tinyurl.com/pdnbrody.

A benefit dinner and silent auction will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday, at Sequim Community Church, 950 N. Fifth Ave.

“There are some really cool silent auction items, like a cord of firewood,” Traband said.

The dinner and auction are open to everyone, she said.

Benefit for Brody’s Battle Golf Tournament on Oct. 21 will begin with lunch at 11:30 a.m. and tee time at 1 p.m. at SkyRidge Golf Course, 7015 Old Olympic Highway in Carlsborg.

The four-person scramble costs $55 per person, including lunch.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 14. 2012 7:02PM
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