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Braden's last school picture

Senator Ted Kennedy succumbed yesterday to the same monster that took my little brother. Two decades ago (can it have been that long?) we discovered by blessed chance that my brother had an aggressive and deadly tumor taking over his brain. This discovery bought us time. Time to cope, prepare and say good-bye. There were surgeries, lots of radiation treatments, chemotherapy, all things no eight year-old should have to deal with. Within a year [correction by my mom: 5 months] my brother was gone.

I mentioned the cancer to an oncologist I met at a Phoenix Children’s Hospital lunch a couple of years ago. “My brother had glioblastoma multiforme.” His gaze fell ground-ward and wandered. I didn’t need to tell him the outcome.

I continue to be grateful for the time we did have after Braden’s diagnosis. His doctors gave us an awesome gift; those late memories of my brother are clearer than any others. He played Nintendo every spare second, continued to go to school when he could and even felt well enough at one point for a Make-A-Wish sponsored trip to Disney World in Orlando where we caught a baby alligator on a fishing line. He wore a hat, always, to cover his funny haircut and stitches and a smile below the brim. He was calm and seemed to have a better understanding of what was going on than any of us. He didn’t cry or complain but played the hand he was dealt.

My heart hurts for the Kennedys whose world has been ravaged by this heinous disease and I continue to hope and pray that “someday” will bring a different ending to stories that start like ours.