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God Heal Brayden

$110,179raised of $100,000 goal
100%

Organizer: Family & Friends Beneficiary: Brayden Watts

5-year old Brayden Watts was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. Your donation will help offset the massive expenses facing his family on this journey to healing.

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Fundraiser Details

It all started with what seemed like a simple headache... 

Van and SaMonna’s favorite little guy started complaining of head pain on Friday, February 14, 2014.  Having just gotten over a stomach virus, his complaints caused his parents no real alarm.  The pain continued through the weekend, so first thing Monday morning SaMonna took him to the doctor’s office.  After a thorough examination, it appeared that Brayden was simply demonstrating symptoms of migraine headaches.  They were sent home with a list of migraine-producing foods to eliminate from his diet.  Since the Watts' household already practices healthy living, most of those foods were already excluded from their diet. 

After returning home, Brayden's complaints of a headache continued.  In the middle of the night, he awoke out of his sleep, crying about the pain in his head.  SaMonna gave him some medication and he was able to go back to sleep.  Early Tuesday morning, in response to Brayden's continued complaints of pain and discomfort, they rushed him back to the doctor and panic began to set in.  What was going on? They just wanted answers and for the pain to stop. After a second thorough examination, Brayden's pediatrician was still unable to identify any significant cause for his headaches, but ordered a CT scan. 

On Wednesday morning the CT scan results came back, but were unable to generate any additional information. Everything "appeared" normal.  SaMonna was unable to accept these results at face value and began to strongly express her concerns to Brayden’s  doctor.  She was advised to follow the dietary guidelines given to rule out migraines and to schedule a follow up in two weeks.  With an unsettled spirit, SaMonna contacted another physician, Dr. Theodore Watkins, a close family friend and mentor.  He quickly consulted with another specialist and they collectively agreed that Brayden needed specialized attention, and fast. 

SaMonna was able to get an appointment to see a Pediatric Neurologist on Friday at Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C, but that was two days away. SaMonna asked God to prompt her if two days was too long to wait and she closely monitored Brayden for the rest of the day.  He played happily and "appeared" to be his normal self, only complaining of slight head pain two or three times that day.  Later that evening (Wednesday), SaMonna received a follow-up call from Dr. Watkins.  He informed her that he wasn’t comfortable with waiting untilFriday for the appointment.  Shortly after the call, Brayden woke up again screaming about the pain in his head.  SaMonna and Van found themselves rushing to the Emergency Department around 1am Thursday morning. 

…The battle is just beginning...

Once at the ER, an MRI was performed which revealed that Brayden had a growth on his cerebellum. Brayden was immediately rushed to Children’s Hospital for further investigation.  After a flurry of additional tests, it was confirmed that Brayden indeed had two brain tumors on his cerebellum. Surgery to remove the tumors was scheduled for the following Monday, February 17, 2014. 

The surgery was proven a success in that both tumors were completely removed, however more concerning news was shared by the doctors post-surgery.  Brayden was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of pediatric brain cancer.  SaMonna and Van were advised that the cancer had disseminated to other areas of his brain and aggressive treatment was necessary immediately.

…Where we are today… 

In less than a week, SaMonna and Van's lives have been turned upside down.  They had limited preparation for the emotional and financial toll that the next few months would have on their family. But, God knew and He has made provisions for EVERY need they have to be supplied. 

This site has been created by family and friends to help offset the financial expenses that SaMonna and Van are facing.  As they prayerfully continue on this journey with Brayden, they are holding onto God with arms of faith.  Some of the SIGNIFICANT expenses facing the Watts family on this road include, but are not limited to medical/prescription costs not covered by insurance and travel costs associated with Brayden's out of state treatments (e.g., housing, food and transportation).  Your amazing support will greatly help the Watts family with the emotional and financial challenges ahead.   

...What your gifts will be used for...

The initial amount of $45,000 is going to cover the out of pocket medical (e.g. deductibles, co-payments, not-covered benefits and medication), travel, prescription and supplement (e.g. fruit and vegetables for juicing) expenses for the first phase of Brayden’s journey to healing (e.g. 1 of the 4 prescriptions required this week WITH insurance cost $1,600 out of pocket).  As treatment progresses and additional expenses arise, we will adjust our goal accordingly and pray for your continued support

UPDATE: Now that the first set of bills have been received it is evident our intial goal of $45,000 was too low.  Brayden is in the beginning stages of his journey and already his medical expenses are astronomical. Due to this we are increasing his fund goal to $100,000.  Thank you for your continued support.

This site allows friends / family to send gifts using a paypal account or credit card. If anyone prefers to send a check, please email godhealbrayden@gmail.com for the mailing address or with any questions. Please note, these gifts are NOT tax-deductible.  
...Facts Are...Truth Is...

Fact : Brayden has a serious diagnosis...
Truth : God is a healer!

Join us on this journey of faith! God WILL get the glory! 

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up. James 5:15

Link to SaMonna's testimony given at Breath of Life's Women's Breakfast March 1, 2014.  https://www.dropbox.com/s/9hot5xtdl8z1v7h/SaMonna.m4a

**Please click the link on the top right of the screen to receive updates on Brayden's progress.

***IMPORTANT:  Please note that your gifts will take a few hours to post to your bank account or for you to receive the reciept, but no need to re-submit.

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Updates

Updates

09/03/2014
by Family & Friends

The other day Van and I were at the store and he passed by a teenage girl who had the same surgical scar Brayden had.  A few moments later I ran into her and realized it was one of the beautiful children we had met in Philadelphia.  Of course my eyes started to water up.  Children should not have to suffer with diseases but it’s the reality of the world we live in.  Everywhere you turn someone is going through.

Throughout this experience many individuals have shared with me their trials and suffering.  People are hurting.  We live in a jacked up world, but were it not for grace!  Though trials sting, when you trust in God He will show you the beauty in them.

This will be my last post on this site.  I’m not sure how long you caring will have it available, so to be safe I will look into transferring the posts to my website.  If you know of anyone who is going through a trial similar to the one we’ve endured please share the posts with them.  Prayerfully our journey with Brayden will be a source of encouragement to them and anyone dealing with adversity.

I also solicit your prayers.  The Lord is calling me to a life of ministry.  What that exactly looks like I’m not completely certain.  However, I do know that as long as I follow His lead I’ll be alright.  So please pray with me in that regard.

For now I’m going to continue to try to share encouraging words and the love of God through my blog.  You can check it out at www.samonnawatts.com.   Your support has been amazing and we, the Watts family love you all!


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08/23/2014
by Family & Friends

It’s been about a month now since Brayden took his rest and I’m here to tell you that God is amazing.  He is the only reason that our family is keeping it together.  Prior to actually finding myself in this situation I would always think that I would never be able to handle the loss of a loved one.  Even as we went through this journey I blocked the thought out of my head because it was too painful.  When Van and I would talk about it our thoughts were continually on SaVanna.  I just knew I wouldn’t be able to handle explaining the situation to her and comforting her.  The thought of the pain she would experience was unbearable for us as parents.  Then there is Van.  He said from day one that if Brayden passed he would be done.  He declared that he would not be able to handle it.  Yet, this morning I can tell you with full confidence that God still sits on His throne!

If there ever was a time that we needed to be in the word it’s now.  We were in it hard when we were seeking God to heal, but now we need it even more.  The devil is relentless.  He understands that God has a remedy for every situation that we go through and because of this he wants to keep us out of the word.  It’s so easy to find yourself laid out in tears feeling physically and emotionally paralyzed with no desire to seek God.  I had to fight this and force myself to search God’s word for comfort during this time.  So let me tell you what I know.  When I get into that word I start thinking about God’s character, about His goodness, about His love for me, about the things He has prepared for me, and about the things He desires for me and all of a sudden I start praising!  The tears that were rolling down my face are now accompanied by a big ol’ smile.  I can’t explain it but even in your pain God WILL supply comfort!  Hallelujah!!  He’s doing it for me and Van.  Don’t get me wrong, we hurt and we cry but we find God even in the midst of that.

I’m learning to take control of my mind.  I think of Brayden all day long.  I can look at pictures and smile.  What I can’t do is listen to certain music.  It just makes me too emotional.  The times when I feel like I’m going down a path of negative emotions I pray and pull out my phone to read my scriptures.  It works every time… well  every time I  do it. LOL.  Sometimes, I just want to wallow in my tears and I do.  However, I really don’t do this often because I feel much better when I decide to turn my focus toward God even if I still need to cry.  Like I said, He’s amazing. 

Van is doing much better than he or I would’ve ever imagined.  He gets up every morning and has his time with God and it sustains him.  He even is starting to be social again.  Last week was his first week back to church and we had dinner with friends afterwards.  If you know Van you’d understand this is a big deal.  This is a man who says if anything ever happened to me he would move to some secluded place and be a hermit.  LOL.  I just knew he was going to shut down the outside world, but he didn’t!  He’s my support when I’m down and I’m his when he’s down.  He’s stronger than I could have ever imagined.  Side note- He’s strong but he is still Van.  If you come to him consoling him about Brayden he might give you the side eye.  He doesn’t want the hugs of comfort (he and I are totally different) talk to him as you would if this had never happened.  He will appreciate that.

SaVanna is doing pretty good.  The past week she hasn’t asked about or mentioned Brayden as much as she had been.  She was praying that God would bring him back every single day.  Yet from day one she didn’t cry or act sad.  Her young age is a blessing in disguise.  She gets that he’s gone but she doesn’t get it.  She understands that mommy and daddy feel sad because before she leaves either one of us she tends to ask will we be ok?  It’s the cutest thing.  So one time I told her no I wouldn’t be ok and she quickly replied, “Ok mommy, I’ll stay with you.”  I was just messing with her to see what she would say.  She is really the sweetest child.  She’s always been a mama’s girl but the week Brayden passed she was looking out for her daddy.  She offered to sleep by him and she would rub his back making sure he was alright.  

It is adjustment for all of us here at home.  SaVanna does not like to be left alone.  We had a play area set up for the kids in the basement.  This was their main hang out spot.  Obviously, that has all changed.  SaVanna is fine playing by herself but she doesn’t want to be alone.  If you go to the bathroom she wants to make sure that you don’t leave her by herself.  I can’t go anywhere in the house without her being right on my coat tails.   So we make an extra special effort to give her all the attention she needs.

Then there is the issue of the noise.  I was confident we had the loudest happiest kids in the world.  Now the house is silent.  You don’t realize how much you miss it till it is gone.  Van mentions it all the time when he comes home from work.  The noise is gone and he misses it.

Well, I just wanted to send out a little update on us.  Ya’ll we are surviving!  All of the prayers you send up for us are being answered.  In no way is this an easy road, but it could be much worse if Jesus wasn’t carrying us.  We still laugh and have a good time with each other despite the pain.  It’s a day by day thing.  I know there are stages of grief.  I haven’t looked them up nor studied them because I don’t care what they are.  I’m choosing to take this thing day by day and God has promised to help.  Each morning I pray for His strength, His comfort, His peace, His joy, and an extra portion of His Holy Spirit.  I know that TODAY, His grace is sufficient for me and that is all that matters.  Be blessed!

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9


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08/04/2014
by Family & Friends

Brayden’s Praise Party was wonderful.  I can honestly say that was the best memorial/funeral I’ve ever attended.  We gave the Lord the praise He is worthy of.  In life or death He is worthy of the praise.  Everyone looked beautiful in their white.  The music was beautiful and the atmosphere was filled with the presence of the Lord.  This has been quite the journey and it has ended in victory!  Brayden’s battle is won!  Hallelujah!  Can’t wait to see my little guy and YOU when Jesus returns.

If you would like to see the service online please use the link below.  Be blessed and keep praising Jesus!  http://new.livestream.com/sligochurch1/events/3241626/videos/58224846


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08/02/2014
by Family & Friends
Hello Friends and Family,
For those who will be unable to attend the funeral services in person, it will be streamed, and the link and instructions are below:

Please click on the link below to join us virtually for Brayden's Funeral and Praise Party Part II, which will be streaming live on Sunday August 3, 2014 at 11:00am EST. Just click on the link, and in the 'Worship Live' box, you will be able to view the service.

http://sligochurch.org/media/


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07/29/2014
by Family & Friends

We are about to have a Praise Party!  Brayden’s funeral will not be a sorrowful ceremony it will be a time of praise and thanksgiving!  If possible we ask that those attending where white, or light colors such as khaki.  Why?  Simply because this is a celebration of the white robe God has waiting for Brayden in eternity.  The service will be held this Sunday, August 3rd at 11:00 am.  The address is Sligo SDA Church, 7700 Carroll Ave, Takoma Park, MD 20912.  Please join us as we lift up praises to our mighty God.  For those who can’t attend live streaming information will be posted once available.


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07/27/2014
by Family & Friends

I feel compelled to share this.  At the very beginning of this journey God clearly spoke to my heart.  When I first received the news that Brayden had a tumor God told me that He would bring me through this trial victorious, which He has.  I never presumed that it meant healing here on this earth.  I couldn’t safely do that because that is not what He said.  That is the only message I received directly from God.  Several months into the journey I began receiving messages from third parties.  Based upon these messages I assumed that God was confirming that Brayden was healed.  God never spoke this to me directly.  I had to clarify this seeing I boldly proclaimed for the last month of this journey that God said Brayden was healed.  Healed eternally yes, but not in the physical.  God is not a man that He should lie and He doesn’t play with our emotions.  Based upon my testimony I don’t want anyone to think that God told me something and didn’t fulfill it.  I have no explanation for the messages I received from others.  Just wanted to clear that up so that I don’t misrepresent God in any way.  Be blessed.


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07/26/2014
by Family & Friends

God is faithful.  This morning Van and I prayed over Brayden.  I asked God to end this pain and either heal Brayden today or put him to sleep.  Several days ago we had come to the conclusion that it might not be God’s will to heal Brayden.   Though it’s not what we want we trust God to have His way because He is a God of love.  About 15 minutes after we prayed my precious little son went to sleep in Jesus.  He finally had rest.  It’s super painful but at the same time Van and I felt relief.  It was torture to watch our son in such a state and to know that he is now at peace is a relief.  Painful but a relief.  I pray that this news doesn’t discourage anyone.  God knows what we don’t know and our greatest desire for Brayden is that he make it to the kingdom and he will.  We are confident that when Jesus comes to take His children home, Brayden will be among that number.  This life here on earth is less than a second in time compared to eternity.  To know that we will spend ceaseless ages with Brayden in glory is worth it all.  I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that we are going to feel.  Losing a child seems like one of the greatest pains we can experience on earth, something God the Father is familiar with.  However, God promises to comfort and be our strength.  Van and I are holding Him to that. :)  Your support through this journey has been tremendous.  God bless you all and continue to keep the faith.   God be praised!


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07/22/2014
by Family & Friends

The Watts’ family is still holding on!  We are patiently waiting for the Lord to move in our situation.  The wait ain’t easy, but God is working on our hearts during the wait.  As Van and I reflect upon the situation we realize that faith has not been perfected in us.  God allows trials to work things out in our characters promoting spiritual growth.  We are confident that God has healed Brayden and we are waiting for the manifestation of that healing.  Nobody can convince us that God is not going to heal our son.  However, we find ourselves entertaining fear and God doesn’t like that.  Fear works contrary to faith just as the enemy works contrary to God.  Fear also results in torment. 1 John 4:18 tells us,“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”  Mercy, I ain’t got time to ALLOW the enemy to torment me.  As a child of God that’s just plain stupid.

Furthermore God has not given us the spirit of fear, the enemy has.  We have seen some scary stuff and we have feared.  Fear creeps in when we see Brayden struggling to breathe, when we see his heart rate drop too high or too low, and when his blood pressure is really low.  We entertain fear when it’s hard for us to sleep peacefully at night because we are always looking to make sure Brayden is still breathing.  God does not like that.  How can we believe that God is taking care of Brayden and still fear?  We have nothing to fear. 

God is growing us through this situation.  He desires that we have perfect peace while going through the storm.  It’s similar to the story of Paul in Acts chapter 27.  He is on a ship during a terrible storm.  The angel tells him not to fear and that no soul would be lost only the ship.  At that point Paul was at perfect peace.  He didn’t allow every wave or crack of thunder to cause him to fear, nor did he let the destruction of the vessel that was supposed to carry him safely in the water to shake him.  He was at peace without fear.  God showed me, that he expects the same from us.  If Brayden doesn’t swallow to take another ounce of food, if his blood pressure drops down to nothing, or if lungs fail to get oxygenated, I am not to fear.  My only job is to trust the God who created Brayden fully believing that He will restore him.  Not on the other side of glory but here on this earth. 

God checked me and basically told me to “stop trippin.”  Here I am posting things about our victory being won at the cross, yet I was still trippin’.  God I get it!  Lord continue to work on our hearts.  My motto is “living the extraordinary life in Christ,” and God is showing me that I haven’t even hit the tip of the iceberg.  As Christians we are to live and walk in victory.  That’s what the cross did for us.  So I’m here to tell you that Van and I have kicked fear to the curb! The enemy will not have that stronghold over us any longer.  As a matter of fact, we slept peacefully last night fully trusting that God was taking care of Brayden and of course He did.

I’m continuing to study the word regarding fear.  I plan to do a post on my blog next week about it because it is so detrimental to the Christian walk.  In regard to Brayden, he is perfectly fine.  He can’t talk, walk, move, or eat, LOL, but he is fine.  No longer our we focusing on the waves, we focus on the God who controls the waves.  He’s not worried so we aren’t worried.  Be blessed!


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07/18/2014
by Family & Friends

Good morning!  It is a beautiful morning!  God continues to send His peace and His strength in the midst of our storm.  Glory to His name!  I don’t say this because it sounds like the right thing to say.  I say it because it is truly how my heart feels which is why I’m so thankful.  How can a family go through what we are going through and feel such peace?  Only God, and for that I’m ever thankful.

Since we’ve been released from medical care we have turned to hospice care.  Not because we believe this is a hospice situation but simply because we need their services.  Things like a hospital bed and the ability to have someone come to the house in an emergency.  During the admission process they made it very clear that they are not in the reviving business, they are in the “make you comfortable til you sleep,” business.  Yea we get all that, and in turn we made it clear that this was not that type of situation.  So, based upon my responses it appeared that their services were not available to us.  Regardless, I wasn’t budging.  I wasn’t going to say things that I didn’t believe simply to get care.  Long story short, God worked that thing out.  We are receiving their services with their clear understanding of our position.  God did us one even better by having the staff that is assigned to us stand in agreement with the FACT that Brayden is healed!  I mentioned our wonderful nurse in a previous post.

So Wednesday we had a visit from the doctor assigned to us.  This was his first visit.  As I saw him walking up the drive way, my stomach began to turn.  You see, every time we talk to a doctor the news is heartbreaking.  Before he walked in the door I yelled out, “Bump you devil!”  LOL.  Yes I took it back to the 90’s with Bump You.  Hee hee.  I needed to put him in his place.  Messing with me trying to get me worried about what doesn’t matter.  The only thing that matters in this situation is what God said.  When we greeted him at the door he had that I’m sorry type look on his face, which is understandable.  He came in and looked at Brayden, his demeanor changed and then he said, “I’ve gotta say, I’m pleasantly surprised at what I see.”  At this point Brayden is still not moving or talking.  He is laying there very alert, looking around very peaceful.  Van asked the doc what he expected to see, and the doc responded, “based upon the MRI reports…you’ve seen them right?”  I told him I knew he expected to see a child at death’s door.  He did not disagree.  Again, I’ve got to shout out, “Whose report will you believe?”  No MRI, CT Scan, Medical record, or whatever, can stop an almighty God.  God says life, reports say death.  God rules!

We are totally in God’s hand regarding Brayden’s medical care.  The other morning he woke up with a high fever.  This was scary.  I immediately called a doctor who is family to us.  He was not available.  In an instant I was checked.  Duh call on God.  We then laid hands on Brayden and prayed.  When the prayer was finished the fever was gone!  No Tylenol, no other remedy but God!  Yesterday, we encountered a similar situation.  Brayden began to start chomping his jaws, slamming his teeth together.  My mother was there and knew that was a prerequisite for a seizure.  Our hearts sank.  I wanted to cry but it was no time for tears.  I could hear another family member just crying.  Ya’ll this thing is painful, but we got it together.  The four of us who were there (the Claibornes) laid our hands on Brayden and prayed, pleading with God to stop this.  We anointed him with oil and just cried out to the Lord.  God answered.  No seizure and the chomping stopped.  Praise Him!

This is our Job like experience.  I say Job like because it really can’t compare to what Job had to suffer but it feels similar.  We had a visit from a social worker.  He is a believer.  He talked with me about Job and the fact that even in that situation God doesn’t owe anyone an explanation.  He’s God.  He is creator and ruler of all.  Are job is to trust Him.  Period.

It has become so clear to me that this situation is so much bigger than Brayden, me, Van, or SaVanna.  God is doing a mighty work.  He is testing the faith of not only us but thousands.  I’m telling you what I know based upon the messages I receive and how far reaching Brayden’s story has become.  Only God could orchestrate that and what He orchestrates He does to fulfill His purposes.  If this was me, nobody would care, but God knows that people’s hearts would be drawn to an innocent child, so he chose Brayden.  When we were trying to get pregnant and throughout the pregnancy I prayed specific prayers about Brayden.  I asked the Lord to bless me with a child who would be like Caleb, Joshua, Moses, Daniel, Samuel, and the 3 Hebrew Boys.  I wanted a child who would stand for God and do a mighty work for Him.  This wasn’t a fly by night type of prayer.  I was praying hard and if I had known that God would answer in such a way I would’ve adjusted my prayer. LOL.  It would’ve been more like, “God just have my child make it to the kingdom.”  LOL.  God answers prayers.  Not in the way that we imagine them being answered, but for His perfect will to be fulfilled and for that I’m thankful.  I’m certain that Brayden has been chosen to do God’s work.

Finally, as I’ve stated so many times before, God has blessed us with a community of believers who I now consider family.  Our facebook community has put together a nightly prayer line to lift up this situation until the manifestation of Brayden’s healing is revealed.  Ya’ll I’ve never met these women and they have never met Brayden.  That’s God.  The prayer line is every day at 6 am and 7 pm eastern standard time.  The number is 712-432-1500 dial in code 230513#.  Join us as we intercede on Brayden’s behalf.

Be blessed.  Trust God in your situation fully believing, not this lip service crap, that He is willing and able to do the impossible in your life!


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07/15/2014
by Family & Friends

Let me first start off by saying, I’m so encouraged!!!  God has truly blessed me with what I’ve come to consider my “extended family.”   Friends, aquaintences, and folks I have never met have rallied themselves around my family to support us through this process.  For the past couple of days I’ve been in the pit.  Monday was so hard for me, I was weak and worn down.  My body actually felt numb and I was constantly on the verge of tears.  Late last night I go on facebook and I find nothing but messages of encouragement.  Messages that were there prior to me posting about how I was feeling.  You guys are family.  We are all part of the family of God, but I really consider you family.  Only family could show the type of love and support you all have shown.  When I was too weak to lift myself up you all prayed for my strength and God answered.  Amen!!! My spirits were truly lifted today.  Another day in the fight!

As I mentioned last time, Brayden had a mild seizure on Friday.  These seizures knock him out and it’s very disheartening to see all the progress he made disappear in a matter of seconds.  He was no longer able to eat, so all day Saturday, Sunday, and most of Monday he was unable to swallow.  He’s already skin and bones and lost 7 lbs!!!!  Dude needs nourishment to survive.  That really bothered me.  To look at your son lay in the bed in a listless state, unable to talk, unable to move his limbs, and unable to eat is a serious burden.  It hurts and I had to wrestle with God about the process.  Brayden is going to be healed, that is not a question, but the road to healing is a painful one.  I obviously want a microwave healing but God very well could be on that crock pot healing.  He’s God, He knows what’s best.  Maybe there are more lessons to learn, more pruning needs to take place, God knows what we need so I don’t question Him.  It makes me think of David.  David was anointed King years before he actually became king.  I’m sure he felt like we feel, wondering how long.  To make matters worse in his waiting period he was chased down like an animal by Saul.  Like Brayden’s situation, that too had to suck!  Yet, God in His wisdom was preparing David to be the greatest king Israel would ever have and I must believe He’s preparing our family for something as well.

In regard to Brayden’s progress, today is a new day.  He is very alert and aware of us.  He follows us with his eyes and though he can’t verbally respond it appears he is mentally back to where he was.   His body is very limp and frail but now he can swallow so we can work on getting his strength up.  We give him liquids through a syringe and it takes him about 25 minutes to drink 8 oz of juice.  That is a long time but if I have to sit by his bedside all day long so he can get nourishment, that is what I will do.  Believe it or not this is great improvement from yesterday so we are so thankful!  His nurse came by today and was very pleased with his progress.

The enemy tried to sucka punch me yesterday, but today I’m back in the fight.  He can’t win, He won’t win, He is defeated!  Not because of any strength we possess but simply because the God of the universe is fighting our battle.  Fight on Jesus, fight on!

BTW, based upon our last hospital visit Brayden should’ve been gone before the weekend.  I guess God disagreed!!!!!


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07/12/2014
by Family & Friends

The Watts/Claiborne family is truly blessed.  Each of us are facing the greatest trial we could’ve ever imagined, yet in the midst we have peace.  God is so faithful and true.  As I reflect upon the last week all I can say is, “My God, what a week!”  The testing and purifying of our faith is no joke. 

 

This journey to healing is a process.  I beg the Lord to heal Brayden completely  and immediately each and every day.  I ask and will continue to ask.  However, I think God is telling me we have to endure a little while longer.  There will be joy, victory, and utter happiness at the end of this journey but the journey is going to be difficult.  After the last week or so I’m simply tired of the struggle, because it is so tough!!  Yet, I know when it is all said and done I wouldn’t change one thing.  The spiritual pruning that is going on in our lives is priceless.  When you go through this type of experience your heart is drawn closer and closer to the heart of God.  We are developing bonds that can never be broken.  Though I’m in tears my love for God is indescribable and I know His love for me is so much greater.

 

Brayden made great progress this week.  We had a little set back last night when he had a little seizure.  It was nothing in comparison to last Friday’s but it did cause set backs.  Now he can’t swallow which means he can’t take his medicine eat or drink.  Simply a set back.  Please add this to your prayer list.  God is faithful just like last time He will turn that around.  He still can’t walk and the movement of his limbs is very limited.  Like I said the road to recovery isn’t going to be easy but we are all cool with it.  We hold fast to God’s promise and we move forward.

 

We are blessed to have a nurse assigned to us to come to the house and check on Brayden and provide assistance.  God is so good, He sent us a believer.  It just makes things easier.  I’m always looking and sounding crazy when I tell medical staff that God is going to heal Brayden.  LOL.  This time the nurse stands with us in agreement.  Amen.  Also, when I followed up with our dear doctor from Mexico, updating him on Brayden’s current condition I had to chuckle inside.  I could hear the concern in his voice, so I told him several times not to worry, God is going to heal Brayden.  His response, “I hear what you’re saying but I’m very, very, scared.”  I literally laughed inside.  I love this doctor, he is one of the greatest people you will ever meet, yet no matter how many times I tell him God told me Brayden will be healed, it’s still hard for him to believe.  So I can’t wait for the day when I can call them with our praise report.  The day when we will all rejoice together.

 

In regard to treatment for Brayden we rely upon God, we do all we can do and follow His promptings.  We believe He has led us to do several things which we do daily.  Also, We anoint his body and pray over him, and continue to nourish His body.  We had two special anointings and we know God blesses our efforts.  It’s an interesting feeling to be completely released from medical treatment.  Now we solely rely upon the direction of the great physician.  Which begs the question, “Whose report will I believe and which physician will I put my total trust in?”  Man’s report says death, God’s says life.  I think this is a no brainer.  I, we, trust You Lord! 


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07/08/2014
by Family & Friends

This is the most important post I’ll probably right in this journey.  The enemy doesn’t want me to post it.  He tried to cover me with fear and doubt, telling me I’m going to look like a fool.  In actuality he is the fool.  God is about to do something mighty.  I’ve prayed about it, begged Him to move sooner, struggled with the delay, but now this miracle is shortly about to unfold.

We took Brayden to the ER yesterday because his pulse was too high.  At the hospital they decided to do a cat scan.  In my heart I was hoping they would come back baffled as to where the cancer had gone.  I hoped the miracle was going to unfold.  Instead, like so many times before they came in dropping bombs.  The doc on call had such a look of concern on his face.  He said Brayden’s cancer was HORRIFIC.  I honestly think he was in shock at how bad it was.  It has grown beyond belief since our last MRI in D.C.  Basically the cancer has filled his brain to the point it is pushing it down into the spinal cord.  Long story short, Brayden isn’t expected to make it to the weekend.  But God…

If God had not told me His plan was to heal Brayden, I would accept this news.  Death is terrible, painful, and unfortunate but God allows it for our greater good. However this is not His desire for Brayden.  Some may think I’m crazy or in denial.  That’s fine, but I believe this is simply a test of my faith.  It’s important that I share this news with all of you as well because it could be a test of your faith.  This situation is so much bigger than Brayden.  God is about to come and get His children but He needs us to have faith.  The question is asked in Luke 18:8, “when the Son of Man returns, will He find any faith on the Earth?”  Faith is an essential part of our salvation and we have got to learn to trust God now before we are faced with trials that could shake us out of the safety of His hands.

Now that the situation is truly impossible, it’s time for God to step in.  When we are at a place where everything we tried did not work and we are all out of options, it’s on God.  So as strange as it may seem and as hard as the doctor’s report was for me to hear, I rejoice that we have found ourselves in this impossible situation.   I’m excited to share  all the behind the scene details when this is all said and done and I’m more excited that Brayden is about to be fully restored.  So how about you?  Where is your faith?  Do you believe?

Either way, stay tuned and hold on to your seats because God is about to show off and show out! 

 


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07/07/2014
by Family & Friends

We are back in the U.S. and as you know God is good.  On Sunday Van and I put some serious prayers down for Brayden as well as all the saints.  Brayden’s doc explained to us that there basically was no telling when Brayden would wake up.  As a result, Van and I specifically asked God to wake Brayden up on Sunday, not Monday, Tuesday, next week, or next month.  We wanted are baby to wake up yesterday and God answered.  Sunday afternoon there was a prayer vigil held at G.E. Peters, which is Brayden’s school, and while they were praying Brayden began to breathe on his own without assistance.  We also asked God to confirm that Brayden was able to swallow so that we would be able to feed him when we got here.  Late Sunday evening we gave him a small sip of water from a straw and he swallowed it.  He also was able to wrap his lips around the straw to suck the water out.  It was just a little but this let us know that his swallowing was not impacted by all of this. 

These things may seem small but they are not, they are huge.  If anyone of you could’ve seen Brayden on Friday or Saturday you would understand.  What is also amazing is the fact that Brayden’s lungs were clear on Sunday.  He aspirated and there was fluid in his lungs.  They suctioned out so much stuff out of my baby’s body on Saturday.  Dr. Rogers was in awe at how quickly his lungs had cleared up.  Also, there was a concern about some type of bleeding or blood loss because of what was being suctioned out.  I personally believed it was the molasses I was giving him, but nevertheless the labs came back and Brayden’s blood work/levels looked great.

As of now Brayden is tired.  Rest brings healing and he went through a lot on Friday.  I think his jaw is very sore from the seizure.  He still isn’t talking or able to walk, he simply is resting but in a conscious state.  He’ll look at us and respond with his arms if he has the strength.  Having said all of this we are truly blessed to have all of you praying for Brayden.  A community of believers from all over the world petitioning God on Brayden’s behalf.  Love it!  So now we’d like to share the specific reasons we’re asking God to do restore Brayden now.  These things aren’t necessities they are simply things we desire.  God has already promised healing so we just want to press Him a little further.

Here goes, we want Brayden to be completely revived in the next couple of days for the following reasons:

  1. He wanted to come visit his grandparents so bad.  When the make a wish team came to plan his wish trip, he requested Disneyland, over Disneyworld so he could see his GiGi and Granddaddy.  He looked forward to playing in the yard and working in their garden.  We are here now and currently he is unable to do that.
  2. I want him to be able to play with all of his little cousins.  He doesn’t get to see them often and they have so much fun when they do get together
  3. He absolutely loves Vacation Bible School.  SaVanna has already went one day without him.
  4. SaVanna needs her best friend back.  She won’t have nearly as much fun here in Cali or anywhere without her brother.  Even when he was in the bed all day in Mexico they played.
  5. In a couple of weeks I’m supposed to be in a wedding of someone who is very special to me.  While I know this person understands the situation, I also know that he really would be heart broken if I couldn’t be a part.  The beautiful thing is God cares about that too.
  6. We want to have fun as a family here in sunny California.  That was our plan from the beginning, to end our Mexico journey with a little bit of fun.
  7. Finally, I don’t know how much more my heart can take.  God has not given us the spirit of fear so I pray it off the best I can.  It’s just the thought of another episode like Friday that is simply unbearable to me.

Outside of the obvious reasons, those are just a few of the reasons we really would like Brayden to be restored now.  So please join with us in this prayer.  The prayers of the righteous availeth much and God has blessed us with an army of the righteous lifting up our son.  Our hearts are so overwhelmed with all of your support.  It truly is awesome.


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07/06/2014
by Family & Friends

It’s a new day.  Brayden is still in his unconscious state but a move of God is on the way.  I posted a video on facebook this morning to let folks know where we are and how God brought us through Friday night’s ordeal.  I’m not so tech savvy and it’s easier for me to post videos and little updates on facebook.  So send me a friend request if you’d like to keep up with those updates as well. 

Tomorrow is the day we are supposed to return to the states.  Obviously, our current situation has impacted our plans.  We spoke with our doc this morning and we’ve come to two conclusions. 

  1. If Brayden doesn’t come out of his current state we will admit him to a hospital in California.  Our new home will become a hospital yet again.
  2. If God decides to raise Brayden up today, we will still be headed to Cali but to stay with Van’s parents as a family.

We earnestly sought the Lord this morning asking Him to please wake Brayden up.  In my mind option 2 is the only option.  We want him to be able to play with SaVanna and attend Vacation Bible School with her.  Living in a hospital just isn’t part of our plan.  Lord, we’ve done that way too many times.  So we asked God to move on our behalf.  As it was explained to us, Brayden can be in this current state for another hour or even months.  We can’t tell.  Only God knows.  We do know that God rewards those that diligently seek Him.  So we sought Him.  He knows what’s best.  Maybe Brayden’s story needs to reach more people before God makes His mighty move.  To that Van says, “Let them read the book!”  LOL.  Yes, Lord can’t they just read about the story.  Go on and release us from this trial and we will tell it.  LOL.   God knows and He cares.  He even cares about the fact that I’ve told Him several times I need to get back to the states so I can go to a restaurant, get a pedicure, and get some dye to cover these grays that are popping out.  I’m just being real, I’m anxious to get back to the norm.

We simply want our child back.  Brayden has suffered so much.  After we prayed we have been blessed to see God’s hand at work.  Brayden has begun to move a bit.  He appears to be responding to us.  We sat him up and he held his head up.  This was huge because he has been limp as a rag doll with no muscle strength whatsoever.  Every movement and grimace, is evidence of God working inside of him.  Hallelujah!  God is working on my baby. So in the meantime we exercise faith by packing for our time in Cali, not cancelling any plans that were made or doing anything else that would be contrary to what we asked the Lord for.  If God has other plans we will adjust accordingly, but for now I have no intentions of going to another hospital.  Can you believe this??? Friday he was at the point of death and today….Lord have mercy!


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07/05/2014
by Family & Friends

Well, here goes another difficult post to write out.  Friday afternoon the nurse adjusted Brayden’s bed so he could sit up.  She helped him sit up and he immediately toppled over.  I got up to help him and noticed his body was shaking out of control and his eyes were rolled back.  He was having a seizure.  I was done.  I was so scared but Van jumped into hospital mode and immediately took charge.  Brayden seized for over 30 minutes.  For me this is one of the scariest sights I’ve ever seen.  My heart wasn’t ready.  After the seizure we thought we were in the clear then realized he wasn’t breathing.  The medical staff worked on him for 3 hours.  During that time the doctor told me several times that we were going to lose him.  I prayed.  We prayed.  We prayed so hard for Brayden, laying our hands on him and singing songs of praise.  Thank God he made it through.  Our doctor didn’t think he was going to make it through the night but praise God he did. 

Brayden is stabilized and on oxygen but he has yet to wake up from the seizure.  It’s been 24 hours and my buddy is still unconscious.  We weren’t concerned about God healing him it is the process.  How long oh Lord and how much more?  This process is painful.  We were planning to go home soon and then the unexpected occurs.  This journey is more than I could’ve ever imagined it would be.  What makes things even worse is Brayden is suffering.  Have mercy.  Now he is laying peacefully smiling in his unconscious state but who wants that.  In just a matter of seconds life changed where our child is no longer able to communicate with us.  Wow.  We sent SaVanna to Cali with her grandfather and uncle.   This is a lot for her.

Awhile back I said the fire couldn’t get any hotter.  Yea, I was wrong.  This fire is still burning hotter and hotter.  All we can do now is hold on to the mighty hand of God.  God said He was going to heal Brayden so despite what we see we trust.  I must say that I did think God was going to allow this thing to go to a death bed level.  However, I kept pushing that out of my mind because I didn’t want it that way.  Yet, according to the word, God specializes in death bed experience type miracles.  I guess we are up next.


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07/03/2014
by Family & Friends

We are coming close to the end of our stay here in Mexico.  Part of me is so ready to leave and the other part dreads the transition.  The program Brayden is on is a rigorous one and will take a lot of work.  This is why part of me dreads leaving.  While I’m so ready to get out of here, I’m not so ready to depart from all of the assistance that is here.  I just want to leave this place and return to the states with a fully restored child.  It’s the wait that is so hard.  God knows what I want but He also knows what I need.  Apparently what I need is to continue pressing on in this trial.  It hurts, it blows, but God knows what is best.  He knows that my heart sinks when Brayden wets himself (something he never ever does),  He knows how I fight back tears when he doesn’t feel like eating or can hardly hold what little food he does eat down, He knows how I feel when I see the tumor on his neck that isn’t getting any smaller, and He knows how we feel when facing many of the other discouraging aspects of this journey.  God knows and He cares.  I’ve given Him a timetable that works for me (lol) but His timetable is best for me.  So we press on in the struggle.  We cry, we encourage each other, and we try to be the best parents we can be to SaVanna, and I’ve got to admit it is challenging.  Especially when we are dealing with a crisis with Brayden and SaVanna is asking us to play a game with her.  She is so precious and innocent.  She doesn’t really get what’s going on, so as parents we have to put smiles on our faces and give her the time she needs.  Yet, despite all of our troubles we know we are truly blessed.  We are blessed that our son is not in hospice, we are blessed that we are all here together as a family, we are blessed that God is so merciful to us.  The list could go on and on.  God is strengthening and preparing us for something.  Though we don’t like the wait we will continue to patiently wait on the Lord.

In regard to Brayden, he is doing fine.  He’s emotional at times but he still has his personality.  He claims he’s tired all of the time and doesn’t want to get out of the bed.  He just wants to lay in the bed and regulate everything SaVanna does.  He really thinks he’s her dad.   To combat his tendency to want to lay in bed all day we take walks to the beach, and spend a lot of our time on the deck playing games with him.  He can walk on his own but he struggles.  His frame is small but he’s not losing any weight he’s just not gaining.  He doesn’t complain about the tumor on his neck but it prevents him from bending his head backwards.  He sorta holds his head forward because he really can’t straighten it out too much.  He participates in worship, singing with us and very intently listening to the stories.  He’s a special kid who is going through a lot.  I just want him to have fun again, which I know one day he will.

Now, just a tidbit about Van, he is doing well. He’s stronger than he could’ve ever imagined he would be.  If something happens and I just can’t get myself together mentally, he encourages me.  It seems as though we are never really struggling at the same time so one of us can hold up the other.  What a blessing.  Van is so helpful, he does everything he can to assist.  Even when it makes Brayden upset.  Van has had to use his physical strength to hold Brayden down for shots.  When it’s all said and done Brayden tells us how upset he is that daddy is strong.  LOL.  Van also takes the fall for everything.  Any time Brayden gets a treatment that he doesn’t like, despite the fact that I’m the main culprit, he blames daddy.  I’m so glad Van has a tough skin.

Yet, although he’s tough he’s hurting inside.  I can tell this thing is wearing on him.  Being in a different country in a medical facility with no outlet is a lot.  I think he’ll be much better when we return to the states.  Actually, he’ll be much better when he gets his son back.  So remember to keep him in your prayers as you keep all of us in your prayers.

Finally, one little thing about my SaVanna, she is a TROOPER.  She is the sweetest thing you could ever imagine.  She’s so helpful and willing to do anything, and I mean anything to help.  She told Brayden she would help him wipe his butt.  LOL.  No Vanna, that won’t be necessary.  When I’m praying for Brayden she will chime in, “mommy what about me?”  So I’ll have a special prayer for her.  When I tell Brayden that God has a special plan for his life, I’ll hear a “what about me,” in the background, and I let her know that God has blessed her with the gift of being a helper.  I believe it’s a real gift.  She’s my cuddlebug.  Always wanting to lay in the bed with me or hug me up.  Just as cheerful and happy as she can be.  Everyone going through a struggle needs their own version of SaVanna.  She brings so much joy.

P.S.  I started writing this post in tears, but as I began to reflect upon our blessings I felt so much better.  This is why we must always train our minds to focus on God’s blessings and not what appears to be going wrong.


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06/27/2014
by Family & Friends

I’ve got to first start off by giving God praise.   He is awesome! He is amazing!  He never fails!  I won’t get into all the details, I’ll share each and every one at our future praise party.  I have believed in my heart that God was going to heal Brayden, yet He hadn’t given me a clear indication that was the case.  However, since I’ve been in Mexico I’ve received confirmation from 2 different sources.  I must share just a tidbit of the last confirmation because it is powerful.  God speaks through his servants!  This is not a post to convince you of that fact.  You believe what you want to believe, but I know what the word says.

God spoke through one of His servants that does not know me.  The message she delivered was very detailed (all the details I’ll share at a future date). God informed me as to why we were going through this trial, the outcome, and some specific things he wanted us to do. The message concluded with, “I love you and your family, I am the Lord.”  Mercy!!!  When I heard this message I was in tears, tears of amazement, tears of joy and awe that we had received a word from the living God.  I knew with all my heart that this was truly God that had spoken. 

We were given several commands all of which we are doing.  Part of the instructions were to give Brayden 3  tablespoons of molasses a day, drink more green juices and lots of water.  I’m being very transparent here.  I was wrestling with those instructions.  I believed it was a word from God so I obeyed.  Now here’s why I was wrestling.  The enemy tried to fill me with doubt.  Did that part of the message really come from God or did this lady come up with this herself?  Brayden was already drinking green juices and water was not part of the protocol because with all the juices he was well hydrated.  I received the message on Sunday.  God knew exactly how I was going to feel so He sent another message, which re-emphasized the need for Brayden to have more green juices and water.  He said he was experiencing pain because he is not well hydrated and that healing was occurring we just can’t see it.  (Keep in mind the tumor on his neck is steadily growing.) He also said that He had led us to this place and we were in the right place for treatment.    He concluded with, “If you do not believe Brayden will not live.” Whew!!! Speechless!! Mighty God!!  I believe it was Tuesday when I received that final message.

Now the story gets even better.  This morning I received a call from the doctor.  He was concerned about Brayden’s lab results.  He informed me that the results showed Brayden’s kidneys were in distress and his iron levels were very low.  He went on to tell me good call about the molassess because Brayden really needs that along with more fluids and increased green juices.  Have mercy!  God had already told us that.  This was just more confirmation that He is working on a testimony of Biblical proportions!  I could care less that his kidneys are in distress because God has already told me the child is healed!  The lab results just confirmed what God already knew.  I can just imagine God puffing out His holy and righteous chest saying, “SaMonna, I know what I’m doing.  I made that boy’s body and I know what it needs.  I know exactly what is going haywire and I have the remedy.  No protocol trumps my protocol.  If I say molasses and water, then molasses and water it is and just because you were a little bit concerned about the source of those instructions I sent you some lab results to confirm that it was Me.”

God’s word is true.  He has told me over and over again, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go, I will guide thee with mine eye.”  Psalms  32:8.  Every step of this process is God ordained.   I am in total amazement at my God.  So tumor, go ahead and keep on growing if you must because the God that spoke this world into existence has said, “You, oh treacherous cancer shall die and Brayden shall live!”  Glory!


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06/24/2014
by Family & Friends

Van and I are overwhelmed with the love of our God.  This is not just lip service our hearts are truly mended to the heart of God, a God of love, mercy, and power.  God has chosen us at this time, to go through this trial, so that His name will be glorified.  Hallelujah!  I initially decided not to share Brayden’s progress so that I wouldn’t discourage anyone, but I now believe otherwise.  You need to understand Brayden’s condition so you can clearly understand God’s power when He decides to move.

The tumor on Brayden’s neck, which his highly unusual to have with his type of cancer, is growing.  It started off the size of an enlarged lymph node and now it is nearly the size of a golf ball.  It is growing right before our eyes.  Stretching my baby’s skin on his neck and deforming the shape of his head.  This tumor is unusual because medulloblastoma generally stays within the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and doesn’t venture outside of that.    Also, we can safely assume the cancerous cells in his brain and spinal cord are multiplying as well.  I base that upon the rate of growth of the tumor I see as well as the fact that he now has a hard time keeping his balance and needs assistance walking.

In light of all of this I say God be praised!  I am confident He is working this thing out.  He is testing and refining us so that we come out as pure gold.  God is not concerned, so why should we be.  He has all power.  He needs to know that Van and I won’t rely upon what we see or hear.  The other day I asked the Doctor was he concerned about the tumor growing and he let me know that he wasn’t so much concerned about that but more concerned that we don’t have enough time.  I told him that God is going to have to do this, which he agreed.

Not enough time.  I thought about that.  God knew the order of events and he’s too good of a God to allow us to run out of time.  If God was concerned about the time He would’ve opened the doors for us to be here way back in February when this all began, but He didn’t.  He chose the most critical time to open the door.  He knows what He’s doing.  He has also placed us in the hands of an awesome doctor.  This man and his wife fasted and prayed with us for Brayden.  Can’t get no better than that.

We trust God, do you?  I mean really.  As Christians we say all the right things, but when the rubber hits the road do we really trust God?  Is the bible just an ancient book of stories or does it tell of a living God who is willing to do the impossible for His children?  The word says in Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”  The same compassionate God who walked this earth and healed the sick and raised the dead is alive today looking for those who will have faith enough to allow Him to demonstrate His power.  There are numerous stories in the bible where He healed children who were on deaths bed.  This is why we can’t be phased by what we see happening to Brayden.  If He did it before, He can do it again.  Trust Him!  If you are praying with us on behalf of our son, you MUST believe.  There is no sense in praying if you are filled with doubt.  According to your faith be it unto you!  Trust God!


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06/22/2014
by Family & Friends

This morning I layed in bed thinking about a service for Brayden. A service filled with tears and his friends and family near and far. This was a celebration of his life, not a life that once was but a life restored! No funeral but a service much greater. A service where we blow the roof off the church with our praise to an almighty God who still heals, giving God his due praise. That's the service I talk to God about.

Healing takes time. So I can't tell you that Brayden is doing fantastic but I can tell you he's alive and fighting. I can also say that we are at peace with the treatment he is now getting. For us a nutritional approach is best. We were so scared about the chemo. The side effects were so harmful and he already wasn't doing so hot. If I had my way I would have God blink and Brayden would be healed instantly, but I'm not God. His way is perfect and He is always on time. So we patiently wait on the Lord. In the meantime we will find joy in anticipating part two of our praise party because it's about to go down!!!!!

Lastly, we have Brayden speak this word. "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord." Psalms 118:17

He has no idea that the docs believe we've come to the end of his journey, he just knows that he's sick. But my little fellow will declare the works of the Lord as long as he has breath. I Pray that we will all do the same.


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06/22/2014
by Family & Friends

This morning I layed in bed thinking about a service for Brayden. A service filled with tears and his friends and family near and far. This was a celebration of his life, not a life that once was but a life restored! No funeral but a service much greater. A service where we blow the roof off the church with our praise to an almighty God who still heals, giving God his due praise. That's the service I talk to God about.

Healing takes time. So I can't tell you that Brayden is doing fantastic but I can tell you he's alive and fighting. I can also say that we are at peace with the treatment he is now getting. For us a nutritional approach is best. We were so scared about the chemo. The side effects were so harmful and he already wasn't doing so hot. If I had my way I would have God blink and Brayden would be healed instantly, but I'm not God. His way is perfect and He is always on time. So we patiently wait on the Lord. In the meantime we will find joy in anticipating part two of our praise party because it's about to go down!!!!!

Lastly, we have Brayden speak this word. "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord." Psalms 118:17

He has no idea that the docs believe we've come to the end of his journey, he just knows that he's sick. But my little fellow will declare the works of the Lord as long as he has breath. I Pray that we will all do the same.


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06/20/2014
by Family & Friends

The Watt’s clan has adjusted to our new temporary home.  2014 has been quite the whirlwind, never knowing what’s coming next, but here we are.  We love the medical team here.  When we arrived we were greeted with hugs and such love.  They were aware of Brayden’s story and have been praying for him.  It’s so nice to be surrounded by believers.

Van and I have become the ultimate caretakers.  Every hour Brayden has to take his supplements, and juices.  I’m shocked he is able to keep all the juices down but he has.  Thirteen glasses a day plus food and he has yet to vomit.  As a matter of fact Van and I decided to stop giving him his medication for nausea and he has done just fine.  Thank you Jesus.  Brayden is very tired and weak so we find ourselves feeding him and even carrying him around.  He is just so tired all of the time.  Sleep is good for healing but in Brayden’s case it gets a little bit scary.

On Tuesday Mom Vicki (Van’s Mom) and Jason drove down to see us (we are a short drive from the border).  With Brayden being so weak and needing so much hands on care it was very difficult to give SaVanna the attention she needed.  With that in mind we sent her back to stay with G.G. and Granddaddy.  It was only for one night.  We just needed to wrap our heads around all that was going on and try to get ourselves situated.

When SaVanna returned the next day Brayden made it clear he wanted her to stay.  Even though he’s lying in the bed most of the day and doesn’t really play with her, he wanted his sister here.  It’s good for her to be here, even if he’s just bossing her around from his bed.

On Tuesday, Brayden’s Doc called me and Van outside of the room to talk with us.  As soon as he asked us to talk outside I immediately said to myself, “Not again!”  Bombs are dropped on us every time we’re invited to speak outside of the room.  Long story short, he had an opportunity to look over Brayden’s records and wanted to know if it had really been explained to us what we are dealing with.  Based upon our last meeting with Children’s and the results from Brayden’s MRI’s it’s clear to us that we have a monster on our hands.  Even looking at the tumor on his neck grow right before our eyes is devastating.  Bottom line is Brayden has got the worst of the worst.  SMH.  Lord really? 

Thankfully, our conversation outside of the room didn’t end in doom and gloom.  Even with this diagnosis we and the doc agree that Brayden still has a shot.  Actually, the one thing we all agree on is that God heals, and if God so chooses Brayden will be healed.  It’s one of those things where I just sit and talk to God about how He works.  If His plan is to heal Brayden, then He is setting this thing up quite lovely, total impossibility for the purpose of displaying His miraculous healing power.

In this spiritual walk, Van and I are learning and growing.  Without a shadow of a doubt we want our son healed and that’s what we plead with the Lord for.  However, we recognize who we are and who God is.  We are in no position to make demands of God.  We are the creation and He is the creator and as Creator He knows what’s best.  So we don’t demand, we plead for His mercy and pour our hearts out before Him making our petitions known.  We ask Him to cleanse our hearts of anything that’s not like Him so that we won’t be a hinderance  to the blessing we seek.  Faith is trusting and believing in God no matter how He answers  our prayers, knowing that all things are working together for our good.

I believe God is going to heal Brayden.  Do I know this for a fact? No, but I have a list of reasons why I believe this sickness is not unto death.  I can’t wait til I’m able to share.  This is one awesome testimony in the making for so many reasons.  God Heal Brayden!!!!!


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06/19/2014
by Family & Friends

The Watt’s clan has adjusted to our new temporary home.  2014 has been quite the whirlwind, never knowing what’s coming next, but here we are.  We love the medical team here.  When we arrived we were greeted with hugs and such love.  They were aware of Brayden’s story and have been praying for him.  It’s so nice to be surrounded by believers.

Van and I have become the ultimate caretakers.  Every hour Brayden has to take his supplements, and juices.  I’m shocked he is able to keep all the juices down but he has.  Thirteen glasses a day plus food and he has yet to vomit.  As a matter of fact Van and I decided to stop giving him his medication for nausea and he has done just fine.  Thank you Jesus.  Brayden is very tired and weak so we find ourselves feeding him and even carrying him around.  He is just so tired all of the time.  Sleep is good for healing but in Brayden’s case it gets a little bit scary.

On Tuesday Mom Vicki (Van’s Mom) and Jason drove down to see us (we are a short drive from the border).  With Brayden being so weak and needing so much hands on care it was very difficult to give SaVanna the attention she needed.  With that in mind we sent her back to stay with G.G. and Granddaddy.  It was only for one night.  We just needed to wrap our heads around all that was going on and try to get ourselves situated.

When SaVanna returned the next day Brayden made it clear he wanted her to stay.  Even though he’s lying in the bed most of the day and doesn’t really play with her, he wanted his sister here.  It’s good for her to be here, even if he’s just bossing her around from his bed.

On Tuesday, Brayden’s Doc called me and Van outside of the room to talk with us.  As soon as he asked us to talk outside I immediately said to myself, “Not again!”  Bombs are dropped on us every time we’re invited to speak outside of the room.  Long story short, he had an opportunity to look over Brayden’s records and wanted to know if it had really been explained to us what we are dealing with.  Based upon our last meeting with Children’s and the results from Brayden’s MRI’s it’s clear to us that we have a monster on our hands.  Even looking at the tumor on his neck grow right before our eyes is devastating.  Bottom line is Brayden has got the worst of the worst.  SMH.  Lord really? 

Thankfully, our conversation outside of the room didn’t end in doom and gloom.  Even with this diagnosis we and the doc agree that Brayden still has a shot.  Actually, the one thing we all agree on is that God heals, and if God so chooses Brayden will be healed.  It’s one of those things where I just sit and talk to God about how He works.  If His plan is to heal Brayden, then He is setting this thing up quite lovely, total impossibility for the purpose of displaying His miraculous healing power.

In this spiritual walk, Van and I are learning and growing.  Without a shadow of a doubt we want our son healed and that’s what we plead with the Lord for.  However, we recognize who we are and who God is.  We are in no position to make demands of God.  We are the creation and He is the creator and as Creator He knows what’s best.  So we don’t demand, we plead for His mercy and pour our hearts out before Him making our petitions known.  We ask Him to cleanse our hearts of anything that’s not like Him so that we won’t be a hinderance  to the blessing we seek.  Faith is trusting and believing in God no matter how He answers  our prayers, knowing that all things are working together for our good.

I believe God is going to heal Brayden.  Do I know this for a fact? No, but I have a list of reasons why I believe this sickness is not unto death.  I can’t wait til I’m able to share.  This is one awesome testimony in the making for so many reasons.  God Heal Brayden!!!!!


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06/18/2014
by Family & Friends

We have arrived safely in Mexico and Brayden has started his treatment.  It’s so unbelievable that just last Friday we were preparing to have him start chemo and instead we find ourselves out of the country just 3 days later.  Words can’t express how thankful we are to all of you who have helped make this stage of our journey possible.  Van and I are so amazed by the outpouring of love for our baby.

Now that we are here we feel like we can stop holding our breath.  The last few days were nerve wrecking.  Brayden just seemed to keep getting worse.  He was sleeping for the majority of the day and was not eating.  Anything he ate he would throw right back up, so we decided to just give him juices and smoothies.  This was still challenging because he would only down about 8 oz in a day.  Needless to say his little body is just skin and bones.  We were so concerned about him failing to thrive from dehydration or starvation before we reached the treatment facility.  We might have been a little paranoid but it is hard watching your child in this state.

Brayden has got to get his nutrients, so we prayed and prayed that he wouldn’t throw up today.  God is good.  He has downed 5 cups of juice and a bowl of oatmeal and he hasn’t vomited.  It might not sound like a lot but compared to what’s been happening the last 5 or 6 days, this is great progress.  We are very excited about Brayden’s treatment plan and are praying for the best.  We expect great things from God for our son.  We have hope.

Please continue to pray and we will continue to keep you posted!


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06/17/2014
by Family & Friends

We have arrived safely in Mexico and Brayden has started his treatment.  It’s so unbelievable that just last Friday we were preparing to have him start chemo and instead we find ourselves out of the country just 3 days later.  Words can’t express how thankful we are to all of you who have helped make this stage of our journey possible.  Van and I are so amazed by the outpouring of love for our baby.

Now that we are here we feel like we can stop holding our breath.  The last few days were nerve wrecking.  Brayden just seemed to keep getting worse.  He was sleeping for the majority of the day and was not eating.  Anything he ate he would throw right back up, so we decided to just give him juices and smoothies.  This was still challenging because he would only down about 8 oz in a day.  Needless to say his little body is just skin and bones.  We were so concerned about him failing to thrive from dehydration or starvation before we reached the treatment facility.  We might have been a little paranoid but it is hard watching your child in this state.

Brayden has got to get his nutrients, so we prayed and prayed that he wouldn’t throw up today.  God is good.  He has downed 5 cups of juice and a bowl of oatmeal and he hasn’t vomited.  It might not sound like a lot but compared to what’s been happening the last 5 or 6 days, this is great progress.  We are very excited about Brayden’s treatment plan and are praying for the best.  We expect great things from God for our son.  We have hope.

Please continue to pray and we will continue to keep you posted!


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06/13/2014
by Family & Friends

The last couple of days have been the worst to say the least.  Thursday, Brayden had appointments all day long.  Our first appointment was to have his hearing tested.  As I signed him in I noticed a pamphlet on hearing aids and it messed with my head.  The tears began to flow and so my day began.  The last appointment ended on an even worse note.  Brayden had a growth on his neck that doctors previously assumed was a lymph node.  After further examination they determined that this growth was of concern and needed to be looked at.  I was then informed chemo would be postponed until they figured out what was going on.

Now for today.  (Sigh). Early this morning we took Brayden in for his MRI to determine how radiation had gone and to identify this growth on his neck.  We waited and waited for the Docs to come back and tell us the results.  When our oncologist finally arrived he took us into another room (this should have been our first clue).  The words that came out of his mouth nearly knocked the wind out of me and Van.  We were informed that the cancer was far worse than it was prior to radiation.  It has spread all through out his brain and spinal cord and has even managed to be growing on his neck.  The rate of growth is mind blowing.  This is highly unusual.  We were also informed that it’s so bad that there is nothing that they can do.  We were given a prescription to keep him “comfortable,” and hospice was recommended to us.  To put it in plain terms, they sent us home to watch our baby die.  (Keep in mind I love my medical team and they are just doing their job)

I can tell you that this was so unexpected to us.  My entire body was shaking and Van was just sobbing.  It was horrible.  Even writing this post is difficult.  Yet, I must tell you that even in the midst God is good.  As I sat there listening to our team I began to get my mind right.  This “tragic” news could be the working of the biggest miracle yet.  God always has a plan and until the day comes that Brayden breathes his last breath I’m going to ask and trust God for healing.  Medicine just said Brayden’s 50% chance of survival has now gone down to 0%.  We won’t take this sitting down!  We are going to fight!  We will be traveling out of the country Monday for Brayden to receive alternative treatment.  This thing is very aggressive and we can waste no time.

Folks, we are desperate and need financial help.  The cost of treatment is about $50,000.  We’ve used a significant amount of the fund paying the bills for his last treatment and right now we need about $20,000 by Monday to have the $50,000.  Please share this post with whoever you can and if you are blessed to help us out in anyway please do.  Help us give Brayden a fighting chance at life.  More importantly please pray for us like you never have before.  God told me in the beginning of this thing we were going to get the worst news, and this was definitely it.  Unbelievable.  Yet, when I look at God’s track record, these are the kinds of impossible situations he shows Himself strong in.  Do it Lord!!!  Have mercy Jesus. Have mercy Jesus.


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06/09/2014
by Family & Friends
We are so thankful for all of your prayers along this journey.  At the end of this week we will start chemo.  Needless to say we are not looking forward to this but at the same time we are.  The sooner he gets the treatment the closer we are to being finished.  Although, I do dread the thought of camping out in the hospital for 5 days I'm thankful that we are able to.  

His chemo regiment consists of 5 days in the hospital where he will recieve treatment.  This will occur in 4 cycles.  So basically he will be admitted for treatment 1 week out of each month until the end of September. One week in the hospital and 3 weeks home each month.

Please continue to pray for Brayden's healing and that he will respond favorably to chemo.  He really hasn't been eating the last couple of weeks or so and he is losing weight.  As much as we and he tries, he just can't seem to tolerate a decent amount of food.

Also, I've started a blog (samonnawatts.com) and wanted to share with you this mornings post.  If you have a minute to read it please unite with us in prayer regarding Brayden's testimony.  I hope the post will encourage you as it has encouraged me to continue to seek God for big things. 

Here's the link: http://www.samonnawatts.com/big-god-big-prayers-big-answers/

Be blessed!


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05/23/2014
by Family & Friends

Last night Brayden and our family were blessed to spend time with the students for Parkview Academy in Syracuse, New York.  The group of 7th, 8th, and 9th graders have been following Brayden’s story and praying for him.  Their class trip was a trip to D.C. so they decided they wanted to see Brayden while they were here.

When we arrived at the place they were staying, we were greeted by the politest young people.  It was really refreshing to see that.  They played with Brayden and SaVanna and then put on a special program for them, filled with singing praises to God and skits.  They really enjoyed themselves.  At the end of the program they said a special prayer for Brayden and informed us of their commitment to pray.  The class has decided that they will lift up a prayer for Brayden every single day for a year.  What a blessing!

Van and I were so impressed with these kids and their principle, Mark Tamaleaa.  Kudos to Parkview Junior Academy.  If we lived in upstate New York, we wouldn’t hesitate to send our kids there. It was a great uplifting experience.  It was especially great for me because I was able to reconnect with one of my home girls that I haven’t seen in over 25 years!  Love you Mindy!!! 


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05/21/2014
by Family & Friends

We are so happy to be back in the DMV.  God has been good.  Brayden is doing very well.  The psychologist in Philadelphia was concerned that Brayden might revert back to his panicked state once we returned to Children’s National (the place where it all began), but that has not been the case.  He understands that he has to go to the hospital and he copes with it just fine.

At his appointment yesterday his medical team was very pleased with his progress.  At this point we have no idea if the radiation worked but based upon on his attitude level of energy and appetite, he is looks good.  They discussed with me the course of action for the next 5 months along with all side effects.  It was comforting to know that the issue of hearing loss may not be as bad as we had thought.  Please continue to pray on that one.

As we were talking, the social worker invited Brayden and SaVanna to go play in the art room.  Brayden didn’t move.  When I looked to see why he was hesitant I noticed his face looked distraught.  He had tears in his eyes.  He then walked over to me and buried his head in my chest and started crying.  When I asked him what was wrong he stated, “I don’t want to lose my hearing.”  Lord have mercy!!!! We were all taken aback.  I felt that one in my core. Ugghhh!!!  Van and I are struggling with all of this, he shouldn’t have to.  None of us even realized how intently Brayden was listening to our conversation.  It never even dawned on us to have the conversation without him around.  Won’t happen again.

Yet, the day ended on a very positive note.  When we left the hospital Brayden asked could we stop by G.E. Peters so he could see his friends.  It was a little late but seeing some of his friends was better than none.  When we got there nearly the entire class was there.  They were so happy to see Brayden.  They gave him so many hugs and he was just a grinning.  I literally had to fight back tears because it was such a special moment.  I missed seeing those kids too.  These little children have been earnestly praying for their friend.  Even after not seeing him for months they still think about him and pray for him.  That is so special and in their innocence they had so many questions.  “What happened to your head?”  “Where have you been?”  “What did they do to you?”  “Why does your head look like that?”  It was too cute.  Brayden wasn’t fazed or bothered at all, he just stood there smiling.

Oh, one last thing.  His head looks so much better!!! Not back to normal yet but to a point where we don't have to worry about folks stopping to stare when he's in public. The skin is healing.  Yet, another reason to give God praise!


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05/14/2014
by Family & Friends

Today I had a follow up meeting with the Neuro Pshychologist.  She discussed with me the findings from Brayden’s evaluation at the beginning of his treatment.  She said he had suffered from an extreme case of Acute Reaction to Stress.  No kidding!  LOL.   Apparently it was the worst case she had ever seen.  I couldn’t disagree.  The first month or two of this journey was traumatizing.   All I could do was praise God as we discussed his improvements.

All of his cognitive functioning test came back average.  However, I was informed that he is in fact far above average but the actual degree could not be determined.   This was because they took into account his acute stress reaction and refusal to participate.  We laughed as she reflected upon his statement, “I will give you no effort!” when she asked him to give her his best effort.  (At that point in time my very respectful child was defiant) At the end of the day I really don’t need a test to tell me where Brayden’s cognitive functioning is. I know he’s smart.  However, it is necessary to see if any changes occur over time due to treatment. 

This is a matter I’d like to solicit your prayers about.  God is more than able to preserve Brayden’s brain functioning.  That is a fact.  If God will be glorified by Brayden becoming the first child to defy all odds and have his cognitive functioning preserved instead of decrease, it will be done.  If He chooses to get the glory in some other fashion then so be it.  Nevertheless, my prayer is like that of Hezekiah who asked God to go against the norm and have the sun go backwards, I in faith ask God to not simply preserve his cognitive functioning but have it INCREASE!!.  No man can take the credit for that.  All will have to acknowledge that it was God and God alone.  Jesus do your thang!!!  Everyone else, please unite in prayer with me on this.


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05/08/2014
by Family & Friends

We are almost near the end of this phase of our journey!! This is week 5 of radiation with only one week to go.  The thought of being back in our own home is so exciting.  I love the Ronald McDonald house but we are ready to get back to the MD. 

Like I said before, Brayden is doing so much better.  All tears and frustration are gone.  What a load has been lifted.  Just thinking back on the first few weeks when even I dreaded getting up in the morning to take him, it was so emotionally draining. 

Now Philadelphia is turning into a fun place for him.  We try to do as much as we can to make his days memorable.  The social worker here at the house has been very helpful with that.  We’ve been to several kids museums and plan to head to Sesame Place in the near future.  The Children’s Hospital had a prom for the patients, which was great!  Each child was photographed as they walked down the red carpet and treated like stars the entire evening.  The kids had a blast.

Also, one of Van’s coworkers came down with her family.  She has 3 girls that are around the same age as our kids.  We took them to this 6 acre playground that is wonderful.  They had so much fun playing, talking, and laughing.  It was a great day.

At this point in treatment Brayden’s white blood cell count is low so we find that he is under the weather every now and then.  It bothers me a little because my hands are really tied.  I can’t give him vitamin C or any type of antioxidant to boost his immune system.  Even over the counter medicines can’t be used.  While undergoing radiation we are advised to take a complete hands off approach.  So he toughs it out, which he does very well.  I’ve spent a couple of all nighters up with him because he was so congested, but we made it through. 

The biggest issue we are dealing with now is his skin.  The treatment has toasted his little head. From his eyebrows to his ears and all over the top of his skull is burnt skin that is probably 4 shades darker than his normal skin.  It gets a little itchy and in some spots bloody because he’s starting to pick at it.  What amazes me about the whole thing is he isn’t bothered by how it looks at all.  As parents we were concerned about him getting teased by other kids or stared at when we go in public, so we encourage him to wear hats.  The hat stays on for all of 5 minutes then he takes it off, but praise God not one time has he been teased.

The nurse explained to me that after the skin heals it will likely not return to its normal color.  Since it has crept down onto part of his face I’m doing all I can to promote healing without discoloration.  I whipped him up a shea butter and vitamin E mixture and Van purchased an aloe plant.  We gotta look out for our little man! 

Hopefully, if all goes as planned, tomorrow will be the last Friday that we are here.  We plan to take the kids to Site and Sound to see Moses, which they are super excited about.  Really, I am too!  This week started off a little shaky but it is ending on a high note!


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04/29/2014
by Family & Friends

Brayden is doing amazing!  He has adjusted so well to therapy that the staff, Van, and I are in awe.  Yesterday he was able to have his port accessed without being pinned down by mommy.  What a relief.  He didn’t scream or kick.  He just sat there with tears rolling down his face cooperating with the nurses.  The tide has changed!  This morning all of the staff was so excited.  Brayden came into the office with a smile on his face giving his medical team hugs.  Praise God!!!  He is doing so much better.  The only changes that we are currently seeing are with his scalp.  His little head looks burnt.  The areas that are receiving the radiation are toasted.  I literally can rub his head and the skin will peel back.  I’m so tempted to just rub it all off but I don’t want anything bad to happen.  His ears are also toasted.  Yet, he hasn’t complained of any itching or discomfort which generally accompanies this.

This morning Van and I were able to go back and take a look at the Proton Radiation machine.  We were totally amazed.  They wouldn’t let me take pictures but it’s something you would have to see to really grasp.  It’s huge!!!  They literally had to build the building around the machine. It takes two stories of space and looks like something out of a sci-fi movie.  I believe there are only 7 machines like this in the world.  I’m in awe at the intelligence God has given man.  To be able to build a machine like this and to do what it does, is simply amazing.  From what we understand this is cutting edge in radiation therapy.  Apparently the standard machines deliver photons and this machine delivers protons which results in less damage to surrounding tissues.  Thank God for modern medicine.

Lastly, my heart is so touched by all of the foundations that work hard to make life easier on families with “terminally ill” children.  I hate that term, but it is what it is.  We have been blessed by Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation.  They offer families like us a free week vacation every 3 months at one of their beach or mountain houses.  Their goal is to make sure the children have a break from all the treatment and can enjoy time with their families.  How awesome.  Once we get past this radiation and see how the chemo goes, we will take advantage of that.  So many blessings in the midst of the storm, that’s why I can’t say it enough…Awesome God!


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04/22/2014
by Family & Friends

I can honestly say that this is an amazing experience.  In no way am I glad that we have to go through this with Brayden, but if we have to go through we might as well get everything we can get out of it.  I’m in a world where everyone is facing the “trial” of their lives and to hear other’s stories is good for me.  For instance, little Leah is 6 years old and she has been fighting neuroblastoma for over 2 years now.  Her family’s life was turned upside down as well.  They live in Tennessee but must come to Philly every two weeks.  They stay two weeks and go home two weeks.  During one phase of her treatment she had to receive medicine that cost the family $6,000 per shot.  This shot was given every day for 6 weeks, you do the math.  Financial Blow!!!  Like our family, their family had to resort to fundraising.  After two years of treatment Leah is still not healed, yet she is the most outgoing little fighter you will ever meet. 

When I reflect upon what we are going through and what other families like us our going through it really puts things into perspective.  I had so many cares and concerns that burdened me down prior to all of this, yet with one diagnosis all of those cares slipped away.   Some God resolved instantly, and others although they are still there, I haven’t given them a second thought.  Life’s focus quickly changes when trials come.  So with all my heart I thank the Lord, for this trial because He’s teaching me lessons.  So many times in the past God had told me to let go of my worries.  I would read Matthew 6:34 which says, “ Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof…”, but I wouldn’t surrender my cares to God.  I was holding on to them.  That makes absolutely no sense!  If God’s got me, He’s got me.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that He’s got Brayden and with that in mind I can’t worry.

Also, my praise report for the day is that Brayden is doing so much better.  He’s happy and getting back to the playful little guy he used to be.  His appetite is gone so he can only eat a little bit here and there, but he’s not vomiting anymore (AMEN). Hopefully the next 4 weeks of his treatment will be just as good. Thanks for your continued prayers!!!


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04/17/2014
by Family & Friends

We were blessed to have a good time as a family this past weekend.  Brayden was well enough for us to take him on our church's Family Life Retreat, which was not too far from where we are staying.  We figured the mountain air would be good for him.  He had a great time and we as parents were able to get some glimpses of the happy child full of personality that we once knew.  He had his emotional moments but all and all Brayden was happy.  Unfortunately, when the retreat came to an end the happiness began to dwindle away.  He was not happy about heading back to Philadelphia and I don't blame him.  I'm an adult so I understand the necessity of it all, but even I had that feeling of dread as the weekend came to an end.

 

Monday morning the medical staff along with the child life team decided it was time for Brayden to have his port accessed prior to them putting him to sleep for his treatment. This basically meant he was going to get a needle in his chest. He was so scared.  He was kicking, screaming and pushing them away from him.  Finally, I had to do what they call the comfort hold.  I had to place him in my lap and wrap my legs around him as well as my arms to hold him down and let me tell you, Brayden has some super natural strength.  He was screaming for me to stop them. He was crying for me not to let them hurt him.  I've become stronger in this process but that really got to me. Poor Brayden, too young to grasp all that is going on.  He can't understand that this is all for his good.  So many spiritual lessons can be pulled out of that one.

 

Needless to say our treatment week didn’t get off to a good start.  Brayden was sick on Monday and Tuesday.  After treatment he just went to his bed and slept all day. He was nauseas and over the course of two days he may have eaten half of one burrito.  It’s hard to see him like that. Then Tuesday evening we were interviewed on Let’s Pray, on the Hope Channel. The interview went well and although Brayden didn’t want to talk he did show his face. Thus, over all the experience was a good one.  What peace to know that so many people are praying for Brayden and after appearing on the show even more will be interceding on behalf of our son.  More prayer…More Power!

 

Also, I’m glad to say that Wednesday the tide changed.  The nausea is gone and Brayden is full of energy.  He is eating more and running and playing.  That’s enough to make my day.


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04/10/2014
by Family & Friends

We have been here in Philadelphia for over a week now and I can honestly say that the last few days have been so much better than the first few.  God is faithful. During this journey I’ve found myself in a world that is so much different than the world I’m used to.  Even as I’m writing my eyes are swelling up with tears.  By coming to the Proton Radiation Therapy clinic daily and living in the Ronald McDonald house I’m constantly surrounded by this cruel thing called cancer that has the audacity to attack our precious children. I’m in a world where little bald heads and battle scars are the norm.  A world where you come in contact with mothers with newly diagnosed children who are terrified for their babies as well as mothers who have been fighting this battle for years.

Yet, in the midst of this I find joy.  Joy comes when you hear the sound of the bell ring in the clinic, a bell signifying the completion of one child’s treatment.  Joy comes when I see the children running around playing with smiles on their faces despite their circumstances, and joy comes when I hear the squeal of little 16 month old Lyla, running around ruling the house. Joy also comes when a father stops what he is doing to come encourage Brayden who is wailing (no exaggeration) as we walk down the hallway because he doesn't want to go to the hospital. It touches my heart to be around these families...these children.

The Ronald McDonald house is such a blessing.  My heart is bound to this place forever.  Like me, you too may have never really given this wonderful house a second thought though I’m sure you’ve heard of it.  Families are blessed with wonderful accommodations.  We stay in a hotel style room and have access to other areas of the house.  These areas include a playground, playrooms for young and old, family rooms with couches and TV’s, quiet areas to kick back and read as well as an exercise room.  The kitchen is set up where several families can cook at the same time with more than enough space.  Volunteer groups come out nightly to cook dinner for all the families and evening activities are often planned for the children.  It’s a community where families with similar struggles can support each other.  Again, I must say it’s a blessing.  This is one charitable organization that I will never hesitate to give back to.  

That's all for now and I'd like to close with this one last thing...God is Awesome!!!!!!  I'd sing it from the rooftop if I could.  God is Awesome!


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04/05/2014
by Family & Friends

We are in Philadelphia and have started treatment.  Insurance issues held up the process and our doctors were highly concerned about the delay in treatment, but we are here.  Prior to getting up her we noticed that Brayden was beginning to lose his hair from the chemo treatment he had several weeks ago.  We immediately cut his hair as low as we could and he hasn’t noticed a thing.

Wednesday was his first radiation treatment. We prayed and prayed that he would adjust to going to the hospital.  I had long discussions with him about not crying and he told me he can’t stop crying at the “ho-pital” (that’s how he pronounces it).  He wanted to know every single thing that they were going to do to him when they put him to sleep.  So I told him as much as he needed to know and it worked!  He went in there and told them he wanted mommy to put the mask on him.  He was anxious but the extra forces weren’t called in to hold him down this time.  I was so relieved.  However, he did wake up screaming because he saw tubes on him. 

While I was waiting for him the enemy does what he does best, attack.  He kept reminding me of all the harmful side effects of radiation.  My stomach was twisted in knots.   Then the Lord stepped in.  He reminded me of the harmful flames that the 3 Hebrew boys were exposed to and the boiling oil that John was thrust into and yet they were unharmed.  God has the power to protect us from every harmful thing if it is in His will.  If it’s His will for some harmful effects to manifest themselves I’ve got to trust Him.  He knows what He is doing!

After treatment, we went back the Ronald McDonald House where we are staying (I will do an entire update on that, it’s such a blessing!).  Brayden lay in bed for hours.  He was so lethargic that it started to mess with my head.  At one point I just laid beside him in a funk.  It was hard.  By the evening things were getting worse.  He was nauseous.  Poor guy couldn’t hold anything down and then the headaches returned.  The headaches were so bad he couldn’t rest.  I could see distress in his face even when he was attempting to get some sleep.  Nausea and headaches were listed as possible side effects of radiation.  My heart was aching, how could my son go through this for 6 weeks?!  I gave him all the medications that they prescribed and nothing seemed to work.  I even found myself driving through the city at 12:30 in the morning trying to find a 24 hour pharmacy

Finally we ended up in the Emergency Room.  The headaches and nausea were to extreme.  Brayden had fluid in his ventricles and was suffering from hydrocephalus.  Within hours of diagnosis he was back in the OR for surgery.  I eavesdropped on the conversation the Neurosurgey  team was having.  They were concerned about the delay this would cause for his radiation treatment due to the aggressiveness of his cancer.  As I sat there a memory verse song I had taught the kids came to mind, “Let us trust in the name of the Lord, and rely upon our God.”  Isaiah 50:10.  God put that song in my head at the right moment.  God knew this was going to happen, He knows what Brayden needs and He’s got it all.  I was at peace.  Surgery, was successful. They placed a shunt in his head that connected to his stomach.  The fluid will drain from his brain to his tummy where it will be absorbed.  This guy has had so much done to him at the age of 5.  SMH

We were told that recovery was about 2-3 weeks but due to the necessity of his treatment the plan is to start radiation on Monday.  Keep this in prayer please.  Also, while we were in recovery with Brayden we received a message regarding the bills from the first several weeks of this journey.  Over $200,000!  Wow.  Our portion is an estimated $40,000 (we will try to negotiate this) and does not include the past 3 weeks or his upcoming treatments.  We just laughed.  We were advised that this journey was going to be mind blowing in regard to expenses.  Admittedly I didn’t get it, but of course Van did.  Imagine if we didn’t have insurance. Even so, imagine if we didn’t have this site.  I guarantee you Van and I don’t have $40,000 lying around.  We would have just surrendered ourselves to the collectors.  LOL.  I mention this to let all of you know just how grateful we are for your support.  I honestly don’t have the brain power to worry about finances, Brayden’s health trumps all of that.  All of you have sacrificed to ease the burden of our journey and we are forever grateful! Excuse any typos...


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03/30/2014
by Family & Friends

I’m so excited to share this update.  When we first fully understood the extent of Brayden’s illness I determined in my mind that we had to follow the example of King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20.  Despite our circumstances we must praise the Lord before the battle is over.   The battle before us is BIG so a BIG praise was and is necessary.  I shared my vision of a praise party with my pastor and friends and they made it happen!  Let me tell you how good God is!!!  The Holy Spirit was in that place.  From start to finish our God was lifted up on high.  An awesome God deserves an awesome praise at all times, especially in the most trying of times.  Every concern and heart gripping worry that was trying to weigh me and my family down was loosed when we sent up a corporate praise to our God.  We are literally mentally and spiritually ready to officially begin Brayden’s treatment in Philadelphia.  The praise has set our minds at ease.

When I think about God and who He is it makes me want to jump and shout for joy.  He’s got Brayden.  End of story.  Nothing is going to happen to that child, which He (God) in His loving mercy does not allow.  I constantly remind Brayden that Jesus loves him more than Mommy or Daddy could ever love him and because of that we praise.  Since this trial our family theme song has been “To God Be the Glory”, such an appropriate song at a time like this.

Last thing, from what I understand, after the praise party the Devil was out looking for some extra strength Tylenol to deal with the headache we gave him!!  Mission accomplished.


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03/27/2014
by Family & Friends

Wednesday was a very hard day for me.  While we were in Philadelphia we had the opportunity to meet with our proton radiation treatment team.  Throughout this process we’ve met with several docs who have discussed all the risks associated with this treatment.  However, this time it was much different.  The doc shared with us in no uncertain terms what “was” going to happen to our son.  With words lacking all compassion he informed us that Brayden would lose part of his hearing, he would have learning disabilities, his growth will be stunted, he will not go to college and if he does it will be community college.  Wow!  When I questioned him about his “absolute” statements he informed me that not one child Brayden’s age who goes through this treatment comes out any differently.  I kindly informed him that God has the final say.

What is a parent to do when they are faced with such odds?  Medicine says Brayden has a 50% chance of survival and if he does survive he will be compromised.  These are “medical facts.”  I’m so glad Van and I don’t live our lives relying upon facts.  We rely upon TRUTH, and the truth is God is a healer and God and only God has the authority to determine Brayden’s outcome.  Praise Him!


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03/25/2014
by Family & Friends

It’s an interesting thing to see changes in your child’s attitude post brain surgery.  I’ve been assured several times that because of the severity of the surgery, changes in his attitude are to be expected.  Also, the steroids that he’s on don’t make things better.  So, we take it all in stride, the highs and the los.  We take the opportunity to laugh with certain changes and to pray harder with others.  When the doctors ask him to give his best effort and he replies, “I’ll give you no effort”, we shake our heads and smile.  When we ask him to do the simplest of things and he burst into uncontrollable tears, we pray.  Our little guy has been through a lot and regardless of all the attitude and emotional changes he’s experiencing he is still the little guy that brings us the greatest joy. 

We are in Philadelphia now for some preliminary appointments in preparation for radiation.  When we approached the hospital the resistance began.  Even though he had never been to this hospital before he was well aware of where we were headed and he didn’t like it.  It’s an adjustment.  Hopefully, with each passing moment and appointment things will get better for him.  I’m sick and tired of talking to nurses and docs all day long, so I really can’t expect much less from him.  Again, I’m so thankful for Van because when I’m mentally checking out due to fatigue he will patiently answer all the questions the health care providers have for us.  All in all we are truly blessed to have the teams of health care providers that we have.  Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is wonderful just like Children’s National.  We can never forget to count our blessings! 

Lastly, we are so excited for the Praise & Worship session we will be having at Breath of Life church this weekend.  God is so worthy of our praise.  When this situation starts to get me down I have trained myself to refocus on the goodness of God and my mood changes.  He’s just that awesome.  Hope you all can join us.  Thanks for all of your love and support!!!

Praise & Worship for Brayden, Saturday March 29 @ 4:00, 11310 Fort Washington Rd
Fort Washington, MD 20744-5809
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03/17/2014
by Family & Friends

Generally we run a very orderly and scheduled household.  Since all of this has happened our family has been tossed into a sea of disorder.  It feels like we are on a rollercoaster and haven’t had a moment to get off.  I haven’t had time to spend with SaVanna and it breaks my heart.  She’s been shuffled around so much due to our current circumstances.  All the quality time we would spend together as a family has come to a screeching halt.  We are adjusting and I know we will get into a rhythm soon enough it’s just weird.  Van and I don’t get good rest.  Most nights we are up, or should I say I’m up (LOL), rubbing Brayden’s head because it hurts.  However, what Van and I are experiencing can’t compare to what Brayden is experiencing.  His fear of hospitals, nurses, doctors, and shots has become overwhelming.  This morning he cried and screamed while we were helping him get dressed because he knew we were taking him to the doctor.  I’m sure all of our neighbors heard him screaming as we got into the car.  He was screaming just that loud.  In the hospital I literally had to wrap both my legs around him and hold down his arms with both my arms.  With all of that they still had to call in an additional nurse to help hold him down.  He is so terrified of them doing anything to him that he has found some super strength.  He was dripping in sweat and I was in tears.  This is so terrible!  Every single time they have to draw blood or give him medications we have to go through this.  I hope and pray it will get better.  What makes matters worse is the fact that I have to give him shots now at home.  The screams are unbearable.  He tries to run and escape and again we have to pin him down.  This is not how a child is supposed to live.  Granted, I know we live in a jacked up imperfect world so this comes with the territory, but it sucks.  After his shot this evening I just held him and we sang hymns to calm him down.  God is good because it always works.  I guess you really can’t hold a grudge against mommy.  ;)  That’s the beautiful thing about children.  Despite the fact that I give him the shots, he still will crawl up under me and let me rock him while he cries.  Tomorrow morning we have to get up and go back to the hospital. SMH. We are at the beginning of this thing and I can’t imagine having to go through the next year or so like this.  So I ask that you would join us in asking God to help Brayden handle all of this a little better and restore a sense of balance to our household.  Thanks and be blessed!


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03/14/2014
by Family & Friends
Yesterday Brayden had a very good day, but mommy was sad. Prior to discharging us from the hospital we had a class where they tell you what to expect and what to do now that your child has had chemo. I had to fight back tears during the entire class. It’s tough. However, this morning God reminded me of something. He never wastes our pain. Never! If we continue to let Him write our story it is going to be amazing! God has the awesome way of turning our greatest pains into our greatest triumphs. In the past I’ve envied many of the heroes in the Bible and I’ve told God I want what they have and He would always let me know that anyone of us can have what they had. He desires that for all of us. As, I reflect on the bible greats, many of them were drawn closer to God through adversity. So Van and I are determined to “count it all joy,” through our fiery temptation. Hope you do the same through yours. God is still looking to make more “Heroes of Faith.”  #godhealbrayden
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03/11/2014
by Family & Friends

Yesterday Brayden’s port placement and spinal tap were successful.  No “ouchies” were required because he was put to sleep first.  After that it was off to the oncology unit for his first dose of chemo in preparation for harvesting stem cells.  Being a newbie to all of this I was a little taken aback as things progressed.  After he was given his chemo he was given IV fluids to flush his kidneys.  This resulted in him having to use the bathroom very frequently.  It seemed I was getting up every 30 minutes throughout the entire night to help him use the bathroom.  I was extremely tired but that wasn’t what concerned me.  I was disturbed by the fact that I was not allowed to use the same toilet his urine was poured into.  The nurses explained that his urine is so toxic from the chemo that great precautions must be taken.  Wow, if I can’t be exposed to the chemo he’s casting off in his urine, imagine what kind of havoc the chemo is doing in my child’s little body.  Unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil.  I was also given a clearer picture as to the potential long term side of effects of the chemo.  It ain’t nothing nice, but that’s ok.  I have peace in knowing that my God can protect Brayden from every negative side effect these medications may cause.  He is just that good!  Be blessed and please remember to put your faith and trust in Him.                                    SaMonna (Brayden's Mommy)



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03/09/2014
by Family & Friends
This message is from family/friends of SaMonna and Van : We appreciate the outpour of love and support that has been showered on this family. We have a long way to go. But Van and SaMonna have been very encouraged by your words, gifts and support. While all of us watch from the sidelines, it's understandable that many questions may arise. How did this happen? Why did this happen? At this point, the doctors are not certain, nor are they focusing on the cause, instead they're focusing on the solution -- getting Brayden well. We DON'T know the cause but what we DO know is that GOD is a healer. And that is our focus. We appreciate your sensitivity and respect for the family's privacy while we all wait in anticipation, giving thanks to God for what He is going to do.
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03/07/2014
by Family & Friends
Brayden is scheduled for surgery on Monday.  They plan to place a port in his chest and then admit him for two days for the oncologist to prep him for chemo.  One of the prescriptions needed for this visit is $1600.  Also, I just received a call from the hospital letting me know my deductible is $750 and it would be due on Monday.  Wow!  The nurse explained how bad she felt about the entire thing and understood that we likely didn't have it.  I explained to her that I don't have it, but praise God I have a group of supporters who have made the payment of these bills possible.  My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude. What a blessing to know I didn't have to add the stress of that bill onto our plate.  Thank you so much!!!!  God bless you all.
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