Grinning bravely from his hospital bed, 16-year-old Hunter Brady joked about the silver lining that comes with an aggressive cancer diagnosis: a steady stream of text messages from cute girls, checking up on him.
But soon, exhaustion and fatigue settle in, and Hunter can scarcely talk. His life looks entirely different now, revolving around hospital visits and chemo treatments as the teen and his family take each day with cancer in stride.
It was late December 2017 when Hunter first started feeling ill. He described his symptoms as fatigue, always sweating, and trouble breathing.
Hunter’s mother, Cheryl Brady, sought medical advice twice on behalf of her son, but doctors told Hunter he likely had the flu. But the nagging symptoms persisted, and worsened, eventually leading to the shocking diagnosis of stage 4 Hodgkin lymphoma.
The days and weeks following his diagnosis were a whirlwind of surgeries and terrifying moments where Hunter’s parents feared their son wouldn’t make it. After surgery, Hunter began chemotherapy and, in a despicable twist to his story, became the victim of cyberbullying.
Unbelievably, someone wrote on Hunter’s Instagram page that he “deserved cancer.” Hunter’s cousin was also bullied for shaving his head in support of Hunter.
But Hunter doesn’t waste time dwelling on the insult. “I really didn’t care what he said,” Hunter told WFTS.
“He doesn’t know how it feels,” Hunter continued. “So, when he does, he’ll realize and then he’ll feel bad. I hope he does feel bad.”
Meanwhile, Hunter’s parents, Ronnie and Cheryl, are fighting to meet the financial demands of treating a child with cancer. They operate a small business, and as business owners know, work comes to a halt every time you step away.
Hunter’s cousin, John Busby Jr., started a fundraising campaign to help the “Brady Bunch,” as he affectionately calls the family. Ronnie and Cheryl have seven children, and are already feeling the pressure of providing for everyone while missing more work is inevitably on the horizon.
Still, the family remains in good spirits, surrounded by a supportive community of friends and family. Hunter, who wants to be a pastor someday, is clinging to his faith in God.
He believes God is walking him through his battle, and remains committed to fighting well. “I’m not giving up,” the teen said.
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