Thursday, December 19, 2013
By MICHAEL SHEPHERD Kennebec Journal
GARDINER - Brandon Ware and his family got some good news on Sunday: the 12-year-old Gardiner Middle School student was cleared to come home from Boston Children's Hospital.
Brandon Ware, 12, is recovering from surgery to remove most of a tumor on his brain stem.
Family members said the seventh-grader had surgery there last Monday to remove most of a tumor on his brain stem, affecting his vision and balance and causing facial palsy. On Sunday, they learned that tumor was benign, or not cancerous.
"We are just so excited," said grandmother Diane Frederickson of Gardiner, reached in Boston. "It's the worst thing I myself have ever been through. But when we got the news today, it's the best thing that ever happened to me."
And the same day, community members were wrapping up their second weekend of yard sales at a house on 311 Brunswick Ave., with proceeds to help Brandon's family pay medical bills and travel expenses.
"The community's been fantastic. This is one of those times in the world when people who don't even know you have total compassion for you and what you're going through," said Brandon's mother, Misty Michaud. "It's really restored my faith in the kindness of humanity."
Organizers Barbara Veregge and Susan Montell, both of Gardiner, said they took in about $1,000, selling clothes, furniture and other items. A family member of Brandon's gained more revenue at another weekend sale in Randolph, they said.
For the Gardiner sale, word was spread by mouth and fliers put on cars in Augusta and at the most recent Gardiner High School football game, Montell said.
Veregge said she didn't know anyone in Brandon's family well before the sales. She said Sunday there are enough donated items for another sale next weekend.
The help is much-needed after a trying September for Brandon's family. Michaud said medical and travel bills are racking up. She's also had to take three unpaid weeks off from her job with the Maine Turnpike Authority.
Family members said they've known Brandon has had neurofibromitosis, a genetic condition in which nerve tissue grows tumors, since he was 2 years old.
But it wasn't until around Labor Day when he started to have eye trouble. A visit to his regular doctor led to an MRI scan, then a visit to a doctor in Portland, who thought the tumor on his brain stem might have been cancerous. That led to Boston, his grandmother said.
"Brandon's got some recovering to do, but for the most part, the big stuff is out of the way," Michaud said.
It'll be a long road: Michaud said Brandon will have to wear a patch on his left eye. He'll have to use a walker because of bad balance and go through physical therapy. School's out of the question for a while.
"These are some pretty big changes for a 12-year-old," Michaud said. "He's amazing."
As for Brandon, he was calm in a Sunday conversation. He sounded strong.
"Pretty good," he said plainly when asked how he's been. "I've been taken care of real well."
Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 621-5632 or at: