Regular readers of the Bangor Daily News, both in print and online, are familiar with the story of Brandon Higgins, the 15-year-old Brooklin resident and freshman at Deer Isle-Stonington High School who was diagnosed Jan. 28 with glioma, an inoperable, cancerous tumor in his brain stem.
Although Brandon is going through treatment, his prognosis is bleak, with a life expectancy of 18 to 24 months, and for that reason, Brandon and his family were the recipients of a quickly pulled-together trip to the NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine.
Brandon, his parents, Kevin and Louanne Higgins and his sister, Ashley Higgins, flew to California for that event in mid-February, during which Brandon was able to meet some members of his favorite basketball team, the Boston Celtics.
I spoke with Brandon’s dad earlier this week and was told Brandon completed his last radiation treatment April 3, and that the family met with his oncologist Wednesday, April 6, to discuss chemotherapy treatment.
Brandon was able to return home after that doctor’s visit, after having stayed at the Ronald McDonald House of Bangor while undergoing radiation with the hope it would shrink the tumor.
“He’s hanging in there,” his dad said. “He has his good days and bad days, coming off radiation. He’s tired, and he sleeps more.”
My conversation with Kevin Higgins was prompted by a call and a follow-up letter from Brandon’s grandmother Charlotte Higgins of Milo.
Charlotte had called to ask how she and her family could extend their thanks to everyone who has come to the family’s aid during this difficult time, and I suggested she write what she wanted to say and we would go from there.
Brandon’s grandmother was writing, particularly, to extend “a special thank you to all who attended the Benefit Supper for Brandon” held Saturday, March 26, in the cafeteria of Penquis Valley High School in Milo.
“Many thanks go out to” JSI Store Fixtures Inc., the House of Pizza in Milo and Shaw’s Supermarket in Dover-Foxcroft “for their donations,” she wrote.
On behalf of the family, Charlotte also extends their gratitude to PVHS alumni president Jeff Demers and his wife, Val Demers, as well as to Bill and Susan Mulherin, Kenny Greenlaw, all the students from PVHS and the two students from Piscataquis Community High School in Guilford, “who helped the servers.”
Charlotte also had kind words for the kitchen helpers, all the cooks and everyone who made donations to the raffles that were conducted that night to help the family.
She was pleased, too, that many people came forth with “photos and CDs” that recorded the event.
“We deeply appreciate all the money that was donated for Brandon,” Charlotte wrote.
“God bless you all.”
While it was hoped Brandon would be able to attend the supper, he was not up to it that night, Charlotte told me.
She was particularly appreciative of the support shown for her son and family who now call the coastal community of Brooklin home, but whose ties to Milo are strong.
Brandon’s dad is a 1986 Piscataquis Valley High School graduate, and his mother graduated from the same school in 1997.
Before his diagnosis, Kevin told me, Brandon was a typical teenager, who loved to play basketball.
“He was a very active young man,” his father said.
Now, Brandon is doing what he can to cope with his illness, with the loving support of his family and many, many others.
Kevin said the family recognizes “there is a lot of support out there” for his son, coming not only from family and friends, “but a lot of churches and other people who are saying prayers” or, in their own manner, wishing and hoping for the best for Brandon.
“We also want to thank all those people” for their support, Kevin said.
For more information, or to follow Brandon’s journey, visit www.brandonsrecovery.com.
The website has a mechanism for contributions and links to Facebook and other information.
For information about the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine, visit www.maine.wish.org.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; firstname.lastname@example.org; 990-8288.