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A true hero and warrior!

I wanted to share a bit about Garret. He is truly my hero. I love him so much and am so proud of him. This is his story from my point of view with some help from him mom, Leighann.

I am his aunt and he happens/happened to be going to college near my home, so I became another home away from home for Garrett 2018-2019.

One evening after a dental procedure he was at my home and his facial features alarmed me. I mentioned it to him and called his mother with great concern, but no real evidence of it. I just couldn't let it go and had to keep on him and his mother.

They monitored the ‘swelling’ for several days and after a few interactions with another dentist, ENT, Endodontist and EMERGENCY room, Garrett had emergency sinus surgery and a mass was discovered and biopsied. Those tests were sent to Harvard and the local lab confirmed Rhabdomyosarcoma in left maxillary sinus. They were advised to leave school immediately and return home to Seattle to assemble an Oncology Team. They worked with Dr Loggers @ Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, now Fred Hutch. At first, they thought surgery for resection would be the first plan but in the 10 days they waited for the surgery team to organize a plan, the day of surgery the tumor grew rapidly and was determined no clear margins were possible. Garrett was scheduled immediately to have a port placed and he began chemo 2 days later.

*43 weeks of chemotherapy

*37 proton radiation treatments

After the first half of chemo the tumor started growing again. We waited for Garrett’s body to clear out chemo to start radiation. It grew so fast that his fitted Rad mask had to be pressed on to his face so tight it left pattern imprints. However, that radiation melted the tumor like snow. It was rough and Garrett was hospitalized for 10 days because side effects of mouth sores were so bad, he couldn't eat, drink, or take any oral meds, even talking became impossible for him. This is the only point he said he wanted to quit. They gave him a 24-hour break and then he agreed to finish the last few Rad treatments. He finished the 2nd half of chemo as a true warrior. He fought several serious infections and viruses. He averaged a hospital admit at least once a month for that year in treatment. Garrett chose to add 6 months of maintenance to his treatment and handled it all very well. Garrett is quite an intelligent inquisitive young man. He has always been exceptionally smart. Several of his math and science teachers in high school asked him to tutor other students in the class and Garrett has continued to do so in college. He is also employed as a teacher assistant.

Treatment did affect Garrett’s cognitive ability. He was neurologically tested to help pinpoint exactly where he might need a few accommodations. He has implemented a few of these tools and has made a big success for himself at college. He is studying chemistry and plans to pursue his Masters in hopes of working in a lab making medicines for those in a health crisis like he had been. Garrett loves computer gaming with a close pack of friends from high school that supported him through treatment and then 2 weeks later the pandemic was declared. He loves graphic novels, hiking and would love to get more into running and weight training as he did before treatment.

Thank you for asking about our Hero and Warrior.

He is a very special young man. He is compassionate and kind. He has been through so much and yet has the ability to reach out to others who are in crisis and offer love and support. I see the warrior in him having battled my own fight with a brain tumor. He is just amazing, and I love him.

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