On the night of October 23, 2017, Brad Daugherty and his wife, Amanda, were in bed when they heard an awful scream from the hallway. They knew at once that something was wrong. Brad and Amanda rushed out of the room to find their six-year-old son, Christian, holding his head in agony.
Only a week before, Christian had been experiencing migraines, but this seemed different. Amanda dialed 911 while Brad held their son’s limp body in his arms. The paramedics arrived, Christian began vomiting, and they rushed him to the hospital. Brad and Amanda had no idea what was happening, but they knew the situation was life or death. The doctors discovered that Christian’s brain was hemorrhaging, so they had to insert a tube into his head to remove the blood. Just before the surgery, a social worker gave Brad and Amanda a teddy bear, saying, “I’m giving you this bear so you can give it to him when he comes back.”
The blood was successfully removed, but the reason behind the bleeding was uncertain. After some scans and tests, the doctors discovered a baseball-sized mass in his brain. A second surgery for the removal of this mass was scheduled a week or two in advance. Brad took this time to minister to others in the hospital in order to get his mind off of his own pain. Since that first night, Brad began posting constant updates on his Facebook page. The family felt at peace because of all the support and prayers from their community.
Christian’s situation worsened by the next surgery. While the surgeons were able to take most of the brain tumor out, the tumor started bleeding and expanding. To make matters worse, the surgeons were having a difficult time putting the brain back into the head. Time was running out, so they were forced to remove parts of certain lobes. Even after the brain was returned to the skull, the brain continued to swell rapidly, and nothing could be done but wait. According to the doctors, Christian might have only three days to live.
Meanwhile, the tumor was sent to be tested, and the results were troubling. The brain tumor was malignant and classified as a PXA grade three, which is a rare tumor that does not typically affect children and is not usually cancerous. Heartbroken, Brad told his wife three times, “We’re not going to get mad at God through this.” They spent those three days watching their son’s monitored heartbeat, singing him songs, and ministering to other patients and families. Christian remained unconscious. No one knew if he would ever be able to move or speak again.
It was during this time that the Daugherty family met Bill Sparks from Gilead Ministries. Bill would talk with the family, give gifts, ask if there was anything he could do and most importantly, pray with them.
Thankfully, the results of the third surgery were much better. Most of tumor was removed and everything was starting to heal. Though Christian began communicating again, he wasn’t himself. He would experience hallucinations and start screaming. Christian finally became more coherent when he was released to physical therapy. To this day, Christian doesn’t remember anything from his first three surgeries. What he remembers is physical therapy, starting rehab and having an awesome time. He was finally able to walk, run, play, talk and return to school where he received straight A’s. Christian left rehab going into second grade and reading at a fourth-grade level. “It’s been a miracle,” Brad says.
Christian’s journey was far from over, however. After three or four months of taking a new type of drug that had started to shrink the tumor, the Daugherty’s received the devastating news that the tumor was growing back. While the family was on vacation, the tumor ruptured again, and Christian returned to the hospital for his fourth brain surgery. The surgeons were able to remove all of the tumor except for a microscopic piece, and Christian left the hospital after the surgery in just two days with no pain. After a month, Christian started six weeks of proton beam radiation with almost no negative side effects.
On October 23, 2018—the exact year mark of Christian’s journey—Brad and Amanda listened as the doctors told them the tumor is coming back. This time, the tumor is heading toward the brain stem, which controls breathing, and with three reoccurrences in one year, there is nothing the doctors can do.
“Anything that happens now is a miracle,” said Brad. He went on to say that if something changes, it won’t be because of modern medicine or Christian’s resilience but because of God’s intervention. According to Brad, this is a good place to be. The Daugherty family is in desperate need of a miracle but will accept whatever happens.
So much good has already come from Christian’s journey. Countless people around the world have been touched by the Daugherty’s faith. In his own life, Brad says he has become a much better father through this experience. The Daugherty family prays together for Christian three times a day and reminds each other “No Bible, no breakfast. No Bible, no bed.”
Seven-year-old Christian is prepared for whatever happens. He lives each day with energy, courage, love and joy. In his own words, “God is good all the time.”
#courage4christian #cancerismorethanphysical #SharingTheJourney #Cancer #NoOneAlone
(Reported by Annika Peterson from Indiana Wesleyan University)