Jasper County Sun

Published on Monday, April 12, 2010 - 5:16pm 

 

For Stanley Family, Bradley's Life 'A Miracle'

By Alan Smodic  

Retrieved April 12.

 

Bradley Stanley thinks his mom is tough.


Engaged in a battle with preleukemia for much of his life, Bradley, 14, received a bone marrow transplant in early December. He's able to fight through recovery because, he says, his mom doesn't ever let him quit.


Linda, however, thinks it's just the opposite.


"He's told me that here, that I'm tough," she said. "But for a 14-year-old, to fight everything he's fought, I give him all the credit.


"I just can't imagine if I'd be able to handle it the same if in his position."


Bradley, a student at Thomas Heyward Academy, has to stay a minimum of 100 days at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston during his recovery. Tuesday marked his 78th day into the stay and Linda says she hopes to have her son home, healthy and around town by April.


And given the path her family has taken to get to that April goal, she's willing to wait a couple more months.


Bradley has experienced a number of treatments since diagnosed 10 years ago, so when the family was asked about possible stem cell treatments that could heal the situation, it was certainly willing to speak with doctors.


"He had been just in and out of cancer for 10 years," Linda said. "We wanted to do whatever we could."


Initially, doctors didn't have a match for Bradley and expanded the donor list search worldwide. Shortly thereafter, the potential match was on its way to the U.S. from Germany, by way of a donated umbilical cord.


That thought is amazing to Ronald Stanley, Bradley's father.


"It's a miracle, it really is," he said. "Five years ago, you couldn't have done something like that. It just wouldn't have happened. So we were very lucky to find a match and that quick. It's just amazing."


During a bone marrow transplant, healthy bone marrow stem cells are delivered into the patient, replacing bone marrow that is either not working properly or has been destroyed. In Bradley's case, stem cells were taken from an umbilical cord directly after the delivery of an infant.


The surgery, understandably, is a lot more difficult than it even seems.


Bradley's immune system was taken down to the point where he couldn't fight off anything, including simple diseases like a cold sore. So as the transplanted cells continue to develop, he continuously fights off viruses and infections while everything forms.


"Because of that, there are a lot of little complications along the way," Linda said. "It's harder with him because of his age. He has to rebuild the cells, so there's a little bit more that he has to do and everyday is a challenge."


During Bradley's latest update this past weekend, he was told that his bone marrow is 100 percent, which means his body has accepted and is completely running on the new marrow. His body has grown cells at the normal level, while his platelets are a little behind.


The best news, though, is that no signs of MDS or Leukemia cells have been found. He's close to a full recovery.
"We're counting down the days," Linda said.


To help ease the pain until then, the local community has come to the support of the family - through prayers and well wishes to fundraisers.


At THA, where Linda also teaches, fundraisers have ranged from selling gift baskets (dubbed 'Baskets for Bradley'), raffle tickets or just simple donations. Debbie Beck, a family friend, says her daughter also saves tabs on cans that are used to generate funds.


"There's actually a jar on our kitchen table that says 'tabs for Bradley'," she said. "We think about him all the time and there's still a lot of room for involvement if people want to help."


Turkey Hill Plantation did its part to raise funds for the family recently when it hosted a dove shoot on its property. The event, which was attended by numerous friends of the family, raised $5,600 for the cause.


Canada Smith, manager of the plantation, said the idea sparked when word got around of Bradley's procedure and the hardship on the family. The event took about two weeks to plan and the hope was that others would continue to follow suit afterwards.


"We just felt like if we did something, did our part, to put the word out there, that others would follow suit and continue to help this family," he said. "It's such a tough situation to have to go through and they are just a well-thought-of family."


Beck believes what Turkey Hill Plantation accomplished should serve as a perfect example as to how people can help anyone.


"Not even just for Bradley, but for any cause," she said. "You can have a simple dove shoot and raise almost $6,000. That's amazing. All you have to do is think outside the box a little bit and there so many ways you could help."
The help isn't going unnoticed by the Stanley's.


As Bradley fights through what should be his final month of recovery, the family doesn't want anyone to think it isn't thankful. It simply doesn't say much because it doesn't have the words to express the feelings.


"It's been a tough life for all of us the last couple of months," Linda said. "To see what the school and all the people of Ridgeland and Jasper County have done for our family, I just can't get all the thank yous out.


"This is wonderful. It's beyond thankful and I couldn't say that enough."