Shortly after Christmas 2011, Gavin came in for a nap after playing outside. He’d been having headaches for about six months, but on this occasion, he threw up in his bed. When his mother found him, his entire right side was limp.
Gavin’s mom rushed him to the emergency room, where a scan revealed he had a brain tumor known as craniopharyngioma. Craniopharyngiomas are non-cancerous but dangerous and highly recurrent.
Gavin underwent surgery at a local hospital to remove the tumor. But almost exactly a year to the day later, it had grown back. And this time, surgeons were not able to fully remove it.
Gavin was referred to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for treatment. St. Jude has one of the largest research-based pediatric brain tumor research programs in the country.
As a St. Jude patient, Gavin underwent 30 rounds of proton therapy to fight for his life. By April 2014, the tumor had begun to shrink, and it has continued to grow smaller. Gavin now visits St. Jude every six months for testing and checkups. “He’s enjoying life like a little kid should,” said his mom, Melissa.
Throughout this journey, Gavin’s twin brother Nolan has been with him every step of the way — except for when Gavin was in the hospital. “It was hard for them to be separated during that time. They’re very caring and tender-hearted,” said Melissa.
Gavin and Nolan are fraternal twins — they look different, but they both have big hearts. In July, these boys are turning 10 years old. They hope to raise $10,000 for St. Jude in celebration of this milestone that they wouldn’t be reaching together if not for St. Jude.