Brandon Mary Swenson knew it wasn’t good news when her pediatrician’s office called her at 6:30 in the evening with the results of her eight-year-old son Brandon’s blood tests. “They told me to get a pen and paper to take some notes. My doctor said that something wasn’t quite right with his blood work and that they had already scheduled an appointment at St. Louis Children’s Hospital for 10:30 the next morning.”  Within 24 hours, Brandon was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.

“In March of 2010, Brandon was really lethargic and running a fever off and on. We thought he had a virus. He has always been prone to pneumonia and bouts of asthma so it was nothing completely out of the ordinary. However, when I discovered a massive bruise on his hip, I took him into the doctor—and that’s what prompted the blood test.”

Once Brandon’s diagnosis was confirmed he was admitted to St. Louis Children’s Hospital.  “We were in shock to say the least. We have two other sons and all of a sudden we were juggling our normal busy routine and dealing with our son’s cancer diagnosis.” Within a couple of days, Brandon received his first round of chemotherapy—a week long regimen that kept him in the hospital for a month. “Brandon experienced toxicity to his chemo treatment that caused his liver to enlarge. His doctors had to switch his original protocol and chart a different course of treatment. “

“Brandon had several ups and downs throughout his treatment,” says Mary. “In addition to the toxicity issues, he had an infection that was hard for him to shake.  However—through all the treatments, the fatigue, and the needle sticks—he never, ever complained.  He’s a pretty amazing kid.”

In January of 2011, Brandon entered the maintenance phase of his treatment. “He is doing really well,” says his mom.   “While his stamina is not back 100%, he is playing ice hockey and baseball. He is running around with his brothers Blake and Logan again—climbing trees and camping. He’s a typical boy.”

Brandon also likes to ride his bike. That’s why his parents think it’s so great he was named one of the honored “Ride for A Child” pediatric cancer patients for Pedal the Cause, a bicycle race in early October to raise money for cancer research in St. Louis. All the proceeds got to St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Siteman Cancer Center.

“Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia is the most common type of leukemia in children,” says Mary. “ And thanks to research, the survival rates have progressively increased over the past several decades. That’s why we are so thrilled to support the efforts of local researchers at St. Louis Children’s Hospital to advance the treatment and diagnosis of all cancers.” 

Join Brandon, his brothers and the rest of his family for Pedal the Cause on October 1 and 2


Patient Stories