His mum, Jodi, kindly shares his story.

About a week before Christmas 2020 Brandon started to complain about backache. At first I thought it was caused by poor posture whilst gaming, but I thought I had better get it checked out.

Following a telephone appointment on 21st December 2020, the GP diagnosed Brandon with a pulled muscle and told us to continue as we had been doing with over-the-counter painkillers, hot baths, muscle rubs/sprays and massages. The pain continued to get worse, so at 6am on Christmas Eve I took Brandon to the Accident & Emergency department of Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley.

He was told again it was a pulled muscle and to take ibuprofen three times a day. We were sent home.

Brandon was in pain all through Christmas Day and the pain was getting worse. On the morning of 27th December 2020 we were walking to my Mum's, who lives nearby, and Brandon was really unsteady on his feet. I helped him to get to my Mum's house and he told me he had been unable to wee since 1am that morning. I rushed him back to Russells Hall Hospital, where he was catheterized and his bladder drained.

A mix up at the hospital meant we were sent to the wrong department, which caused a delay of 4-5 hours. During this time Brandon went from being unsteady on his feet to being unable to use his legs, with the paralysis spreading up his torso. The doctors suspected the nerves in his lower spine were being compressed (cauda equina syndrome).

It was decided that Brandon needed an MRI. As the MRI department at Russells Hall Hospital had closed, we were blue lighted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Brandon was in good spirits as he was no longer in pain due to the medication he had been given.

The results of the MRI scan showed a small lump on Brandon's spine that was a cause for concern. I was taken into a side room, where it dawned on me that it could be cancer.

The doctor said they would only know for sure with a biopsy, but it was unlike any tumour he had seen. Brandon had been given IV steroids to try to ease his symptoms, but as the paralysis had now spread to the bottom of his neck, we were told he needed surgery immediately to debulk the tumour and decompress his spine. Brandon had 7 hour surgery on the morning of 28th December 2020.

The surgery went well thanks to the amazing skill of Brandon's surgeons. We waited several agonising days for the results of the biopsy. After no news for days, I spoke to one of the doctors on the ward round who told me the preliminary diagnosis was osteosarcoma.

When I told Brandon he was so calm and brave, asking me 'what happens now then Mum?'

With the help of his amazing physiotherapist, Brandon was walking again within days. On 12th January 2021 we were discharged and we were so happy to be going home. Brandon was to start six cycles of chemotherapy once his spine had healed.

Over the next 36 hours Brandon started to experience the same symptoms as before. It was obvious that something was wrong. Brandon and I were both so upset and terrified. We knew it was happening all over again.

Brandon was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on the 14th January 2021 after only a day and a half at home, where another MRI scan showed that the tumour had grown back and doubled in size (both height and width) less than three weeks after the surgery to remove it.

I asked the surgeon if Brandon was going to die, and he said it was 'likely.' He also said a second decompression on his spine so soon after the first was very risky, and Brandon may not make it through surgery.

My heart felt like it had been ripped out. In the space of a few weeks, my son had gone from being fine to having a terminal cancer diagnosis.

Brandon had further 9 hour surgery to decompress his spine, debulk the tumour and replace part of his spine with metal work. It was such a hard day waiting, thinking of the what ifs. When I saw him again it was the best feeling. He was alive, pain free and I was ecstatic that he made it through the surgery.

A few days later the oncology team told us that Brandon would need a further scan and would start with radiotherapy once his spine had healed. On 23rd January 2021 we were told the latest scan showed the tumour was back again and radiotherapy needed to start the following day.

Brandon had 35 sessions of radiotherapy over 7 weeks, each time having to get bolted down to the carbon fibre bed. The first week or so the radiotherapy had to be replanned several times as the tumour just kept on growing. It was so emotional when Brandon finished his radiotherapy on 16th March 2021. He had managed to get through it without any negative side effects.

Brandon had another scan once he had finished his radiotherapy and we were told that, although the tumour was stable, Brandon now had metastasis to his lungs. We were discharged on 31st March 2021 and Brandon came home for a few weeks to rest and see family before going back to hospital on 20th April 2021 for a PICC line to be fitted and to start chemotherapy.

He was given doxorubicin and cisplatin. It was brutal. Every 21 days we would go back for the next round of chemotherapy, and it never got any easier, but Brandon did not let it get him down.

Brandon completed 4 out of 6 cycles of chemotherapy before getting sick with a high temperature whilst at home. It took three ambulance crews and a critical care team with a doctor over 3 hours to stabilise Brandon so he could be blue lighted to Russells Hall Hospital. The following day he was diagnosed with sepsis, and he was given antibiotics and oxygen before being transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

I was given the devastating news that the chemotherapy was being stopped and that the medical teams had done all they could for Brandon. He came home for 10 precious days before he went back to hospital because of breathing problems. Over the next week he was able to see a lot of his favourite people, before taking his last breath snuggled up between me and one of his favourite nurse at 1:35pm on 16th August 2021.

My son was positive all the way through his journey and always had a smile on his face. The support he had from his amazing nurses, physiotherapists, and palliative care team on ward 409 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital kept his spirits high through everything. I would especially like to thank Brandon's physiotherapist, Rosie, and all his medical team on ward 409, his nurses Jan, Lydia, Ian, Tracey, Katie, Louise, Molly, Molly, Georgie and his palliative care nurse, Sue, for all they did for Brandon.

Brandon wanted me to share his story. He wanted everyone to know their own bodies and trust their gut instinct. If you feel something is wrong, keep going back to your GP, particularly if the pain worsens at night. If you have already been diagnosed, know that support is out there. You are not alone, celebrate the little wins throughout your journey, and most of all stay positive and smile like my Brandon.

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