Braden's Battle: From Little League to Leukemia
Updated: Oct 23, 2018
On a beautiful day in late July, a 10-year old boy from Lac Courte Oreilles was pitching for his little league baseball team in Minneapolis. The LCO team was closing out a wonderful season, the first for any little league at LCO in many years.
Although there was a lot of celebration, the boy, Braden Young, wasn’t feeling that well. He told his mother he had a headache. A week later this family’s world would be turned upside down.
Braden was diagnosed with T-Cell Leukemia, a fast-growing cancer that’s very aggressive. That was August 6th of this year. That was the day Braden’s battle began.
Susan Taylor, Braden’s mother, said that she and Braden reflect on that day quite a bit. Braden had just finished playing ball in the Hayward Little League and was recruited by the LCO team to travel to Minneapolis to play Little Earth, a Native team located in the cities. Susan said it was then that his headaches started and lasted throughout the next week.
“I thought it was something viral because my other boys had headaches too,” Susan said. “Then he told me he had lumps on his head and I thought he was fighting an infection.”
Susan said the following weekend his headaches worsened.
“He also had dark bruises suddenly appear on his arms and legs, which I thought he might have been playing too rough,” Susan said.
On Monday morning, August 6th, Susan started calling around for an appointment. She recalled that she couldn’t get anything in Hayward, so she called Rice Lake. She spoke to a nurse and relayed Braden’s symptoms and was told to take him straight to the emergency room at Lakeview Medical Center.
Susan said the waiting time was very long and she wasn’t thinking it would be anything serious. During this time, she called Braden’s dad, Bradley Young, Sr, and he came right away.
“I was thinking they would tell us something, give us a prescription, then send us home but finally, three physicians walked in the room and I knew something was wrong,” Susan said. “They told us his blood work appeared to be something that could be leukemia. The one doctor explained that his white blood count was over 200,000 and normal was 10,000-20,000. We all just completely lost it. No one wants to be told their child has cancer. I couldn’t help myself. Braden knew it was bad because I couldn’t control myself, so he lost it too.”
Susan explained how decisions were made very quickly, “I mean in seconds.” It was decided that Braden would be transferred by helicopter to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Doctors were concerned about organ failure and didn’t want to waste any time, she said. Braden was in Rochester in 30 minutes while his parents made the 3-hour drive.
“That was the day our whole lives changed. Braden and I haven’t been home since,” Susan said.
After the bone marrow biopsy and spinal tap testing the family was told Braden had T-Cell Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), also called acute lymphocytic leukemia, which is a rapidly developing cancer among children where abnormal white blood cells form in the bone marrow. These abnormal cells quickly travel through the bloodstream and crowd out healthy cells, which raises the body's chances of infection and other problems, according to WebMD.
Susan said his treatment started immediately. “They told us he would have a 3-phase treatment plan lasting for three years. The first phase was 28 days. Every day he would receive a type of chemo steroid by pill form. He also would get a type of chemo and sometimes two types of chemo injected into his port. He would receive this twice a week.”
Braden has completed the first phase of the treatment and just had another spinal tap and bone marrow biopsy last Wednesday, September 5. Susan said although the official results aren’t back yet, that things are hopeful because doctors said after looking at his biopsy they couldn’t see any cancer.
The results from those tests will determine how they will treat Braden in phase two, which will last six to seven months and the final phase will last up to 30 months.
UPDATE: Susan said Braden’s phase two treatment has been difficult for him with intense chemo and radiation causing nausea, unable to eat and drink.
Braden said he would get frustrated with his chemo. “It sucked, I hated it,” he said.
Susan said there were many ups and downs through the chemo. “Just when he thinks he’s feeling good, setbacks would always occur. We would end up in the ER, going in for simple bloodwork then staying extra-long receiving platelets or plasma, or just having trouble with his port.”
Susan said that this weekend though was the first weekend nothing serious happened and that Braden has been feeling really good. She added that he went to a local fall festival with his dad and he really enjoyed watching the Packer game Sunday night.
“Up until now our entire days have been spent at hospitals or appointments or just sitting in our room being exhausted from all of that,” Susan said. “With Braden’s cancer and chemo, he has been really weak. He would need to rest a lot. He is starting to perk up now though. Especially after being told his cancer might be gone.”
Up until Braden’s diagnosis, he was an energetic 10-year old actively participating in sports. He was looking forward to fall sports with his brothers, Bradley, Brendan and Brody.
Braden said his favorite sport is basketball and his favorite team is the Golden State Warriors. His favorite football team is the Packers.
And of course, he also enjoys baseball. His coach, George Taylor Jr., said Braden is a very impressive player in any position. “I can’t wait to have him back,” Coach Taylor said.
“For months, my niece Susie and I had planned to take our boys to the first preseason Packer game on August 9th but Braden was diagnosed with leukemia on August 6th,” Susan said. “Braden knew he wouldn’t be able to go and insisted that Susie, McKayl and his brothers go without us. Braden asked his brother Dakota and his sister Kiara to use our tickets.”
Braden said he used to like to play Fortnite but, since he’s been at the hospital he has lost interest.
Braden is in the 5th grade this year and is currently getting homeschooled. His brothers Bradley, Brendan and Brody are all attending school in Rochester.
“When this all started, Braden liked the idea of not going to school. After his brothers started school, he changed his mind,” Susan said. “He asked his doctors if he could go to school but they said no. He is disappointed but realizes his health is important.”
Susan adds that Braden has always been a sensitive kid with a soft heart. “He cares about things a lot. He also has a great sense of humor.”
Braden has had a lot of family support since being diagnosed. Susan said that many have come to support them.
“My mom has come and she would help with dinner. It’s nice to have home cooked meals here,” Susan said. “His Aunt Mindy has taken him to the movie. His Aunt Jen has taken him to Walmart. He’s loved all of this. Even if company came just to visit he really loves it.”
Braden has six siblings, Derek Taylor, Dakota Young, Kiara Young, Bradley Young Jr., Brendan Young, Brody Young.
When Braden’s mother was asked if there was anyone they would like to thank, she said, “First of all, we would like to thank the Lord for blessing us with the wonderful doctors, family and a huge community of friends.
“There are so many people to thank, I don’t want to forget anyone. I think this really helped in Braden’s healing. All of the prayers and knowing so many people cared always put the biggest smile on his face,” Susan added. “My niece Josie started a go fund me page. This helped Braden’s dad and I out a lot. Thank you, Josie, and all of the contributors.”
Susan said that since Braden’s diagnosis, the amount of support just kept coming.
“Right away people were doing fundraisers. I know that took a lot of effort, planning, cooking and just everything. We would like to thank the following:
“My mom and Dad: Louis Taylor and Cindy Taylor;
“Renee Bressette, Holly Trepanier, Breanne Quagon, Dominique Rusk, Renee Isham, Chuxie Barrows and her son Owen, Michelle Wilson, Kyleigh Barber, Janey Trepanier, Monica Butler, Myrna Taylor, Delores Staples, Christina Lowe, Candace Radermacher, William LaPointe, Ryan White, Jeff Taylor, Rana Lapointe, Monica Martinson, Shaynee White, Josie Taylor, Paula Cooper, Megan Taylor, Reone Rusk, Melissa Quagon. Sherrie Paulson Tainter, Rose Barber, Deanna Baker, Mary Mapes, Lisa Kisch. Derek Taylor and Charlie Peck.”
Susan and Braden also want to thank all the people who bought from the fundraisers and donated to the fund raisers.
“So many people helped in so many ways, thank you!
“Also, my family: Mindy Taylor, Jennifer Taylor, Susie Taylor took care of my other boys for the first two weeks, including Dakota and Kiara Young and their mother Kristen, Thank you.”
Susan thanked the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester as well, and, “I would like to thank both the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe and the St. Croix Tribe, my employer, Wisconsin Judicare/Oakwood Haven, LCO Quickstop, Danbury Casino, SevenWinds Casino, LCO Boys & Girls Club, Hayward Community Schools, Rochester schools, LCO cancer Fundraiser and the LCO Battlers.
“The LCO Womens Prayer Group, St. Francis Solanus Church for mass, Jeff Taylor & Lewis Taylor for having a healing prayer/naming ceremony.”
Susan said that there were so many people who prayed for their family and for Braden and so many that were there for her to talk to.
“Please forgive me if I’m forgetting anyone. I appreciate everything, and nothing has gone unnoticed. Thank you.”
If you would like to support Braden and his family at this time, you can visit the Go Fund Me page set up by his cousin Josie at https://www.gofundme.com/5xmdciw
Article by Joe Morey
Pictured with Braden are his brothers from Left) Brody, Brendan and Bradley Jr.