Braedan Belcher was born with a congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. His journey began with his first surgery when he was only 3 1/2 days old. His second surgery was at 3 months old, and his third surgery took place when he was 2. Braedan is now 9 years old and had another surgery to repair his leaky tricuspid valve on November 2, 2015. Although his surgery seemed to be a success at first, his heart did not respond well. He is at a point now where the ONLY option will be a heart transplant. The doctors at Lurie Children's Hospital are not optimistic that he will be able to go home before they find him a heart. His mom and dad (Lisa and Larry) both work full time, but his mom will not be able to return to work right now. She will need to be at Braedan's bedside during this process. Braedan is a 4th grade student at Reed-Custer Intermediate School. He misses being at school, misses his friends, and just misses being able to be a kid. The Reed-Custer CARES group supports Braedan and his family during this difficult period.
Reed-Custer Intermediate School held a benefit on April 27, 2016.
- Braedan is starting 7th grade this school year. He encroached his 2 years post heart transplant date on June 15, 2018 and is doing very well. His doctor appointments have been spaced further apart, which is always a good sign. If you would like to continue seeing updates, there is a facebook page 'Hugs and A Heart for Braedan'
that you can follow his story on.
Braedan has had a busy summer swimming with his friends, sleep overs, going to Pokemon Go fest, Dave & Buster's, and several Chicago Cubs games. Braedan is on a mission to collect 1 million pop tabs to support The Ronald McDonald House. If you would like to support Braedan in his effort, please contact his mom Lisa at email@example.com
to arrange pick up.
Megan Bugg is the daughter of Kent and Deb Bugg. Deb has been a
teacher with the Reed-Custer School District since 1987. She has touched
the lives of thousands of students and families during her tenure as a
Reed-Custer High School teacher. Megan has been battling Stage 4 Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma since December 26, 2014.
After her initial diagnosis, Megan underwent a successful 54
week chemotherapy and radiation protocol. She was in remission for nearly
a year before a scan revealed a cancerous tumor in her chest, which
necessitated another 36 weeks of chemotherapy and additional radiation.
Following this treatment, two other tumors were discovered in her lower back,
which resulted in even more proton radiation. During this period of time,
Megan went through 90 weeks of intense chemotherapy, over 100 radiation
treatments, and three surgical procedures. Currently, her doctors are
monitoring another tumor that was discovered in her chest very near her
aorta. A treatment plan for this latest relapse is yet to be determined.
her personal battle, Megan has been working hard to raise awareness and funding
to support childhood cancer research. She has set up a fundraising site
where supporters can make direct tax deductible donations to support the very
promising research being conducted by Dr. Walterhouse at Luries Children's
Hospital in Chicago. He is conducting research on Megan's specific type
of cancer, and every dollar Megan raises goes directly to support his
research. Given that the Federal government only allocates 4% of all
cancer funding to support childhood cancer research, every dollar counts.
If you are interested in donating to her cause, you may do
so by visiting this site.
has also been meeting with State and Federal legislators to advocate for
childhood cancer research funding. Her efforts resulted in the unanimous
passing of Illinois
House Resolution 1071, which encourages the Federal government to recognize
the importance of increasing funding for childhood cancer. Megan will
also be traveling to Washington D.C. on September 16 to be a featured speaker
at the Curefest childhood cancer
Updates are provided through the following
blog: Megan Buggs' Journey
On September 11th, 2018 Zach was diagnosed with a macroadenoma tumor (aka germinoma or germ cell tumor) on his pituitary gland, just behind his right eye. The tumor has been there for quite a long time, but doctors don't know how long. His dad noticed something was wrong while they were at work the day before. Zach's right eye had dropped to a slant and he was having blurred and double vision along with pain. His mom took him to the ER and they did a CT scan and it showed a mass near his brain.
The following day he went to see a neurologist and he diagnosed him with a tumor and immediately put him in ICU at St. Joes. He had surgery on Sept 12 to remove part of it. They went up through his nose to remove the tumor, so no cutting on his head. They did not remove the whole thing because they said it was too risky, especially if they hit his cranial and/or optical nerve then it could have cause permanent vision loss in his right eye. It has caused pressure on his eye, his hormones were almost completely shut down, loss of appetite and weight, excessive thirst, dehydration, headaches, and fatigue. The tumor was not allowing his body to absorb anything, his electrolytes and sodium levels were very low because everything he drank went right through him causing him to be dehydrated all the time. This is why he passed out while he was in boot camp. His neurologist (and former Marine) said if he had stayed in boot camp they would have never caught it in time. His urine output was higher than his fluid intake. This has caused him to develop diabetes insipidus (totally different that diabetes 1 & 2). While In the hospital he was given steroids to help with his hormones, but this sometimes cause his blood sugar to rise so they had to give him insulin shots. Also, he was getting shots in his stomach to control the diabetes insipidus (Basically to stop him from peeing so much. It allowed his body to absorb the fluids he was drinking). He is still currently taking these meds and might have to for a long time.
He was released Sept 15 and now our next step is to get rid of the remaining tumor. It has to be removed or it will eventually just keep growing. On September 25th he had an appointment with his neurosurgeon and the results of the tumor are malignant, meaning it is continuing to grow. It is NOT cancerous, however if it is not treated in time it will turn into cancer as it grows. He will be starting radiation and chemo treatments very soon at the University of Chicago. He will have anywhere between 16-25 treatments.
On September 27, 2018 Zach’s parents learned that his tumor is cancerous. The results of his surgery showed that he has a pituitary germinoma tumor, not a pituitary adenoma tumor and those tumors are cancerous. It is not an aggressive cancer and it is not spreading. Currently it is not growing; however, he is still experiencing headaches, double vision and he has moments when he can't keep his food down. Other than that, he is really doing well. Due to insurance reasons Zach will not be going to the University of Chicago for treatments. His parents have been in contact with Lurie's to get a second opinion about whether or not chemo is necessary or if he should just stick with radiation. If they offer to treat him there then he will go there; otherwise, he will just do his treatments in Joliet. Treatments will not start until after October 12, 2018 because he is still healing from surgery. All of his doctors have assured his parents that this is 90% curable. Zach’s mom, Tina Hill said, “We have no choice but to hope for the best and put our trust in them.”
Lexi Spray is the daughter of Bill and Andrea Spray. Andrea has been a teacher with the Reed-Custer School District since 2006. Andrea first taught 5th grade, and has spent most of her years with the district as a dedicated 2nd grade teacher at Reed-Custer Intermediate School, where she has helped to build the educational foundations of many students. In July of 2014, Lexi was diagnosed with Langerhan’s Cell Histocytosis. In August of 2015, Lexi completed her treatment. The first scans showed no new growth. At her six month check-up, the scans showed several new spots. This resulted in Lexi beginning a new round of treatment beginning in February. She is receiving two different types of chemotherapy for five days each month. This treatment will be ongoing for one year. The Spray family appreciates the positive thoughts and prayers from the Reed-Custer CARES group.
||Lucas Vanoskey- Lucas is a 9th grade student in
the Reed-Custer School District. In September 2018, on a trip to the emergency
room, Lucas was diagnosed with Kidney failure and pancreatitis. He was
then transported to a children’s hospital in Chicago and has been there for
the last week and a half. He has been sedated & on 24 hour kidney
dialysis. It has been a long road as his other organs are now being
affected as well. Please keep Lucas and his family in your thoughts and
We lost a freshman student, Michael Wilkey to an unfortunate accident on December 27th 2017. Michael was an energetic and caring person who was loved by many. He loved to be with his family and friends and really enjoyed spending time outdoors. Michael wanted to be a carpenter and enjoyed taking things apart and putting them back together. He was a very hard worker who wanted to do nothing else but to get good grades. His infectious smile and bubbly personality will be missed by the RC family. Below is a link to the family’s go fund me page & a news article related to the tragic incident.
|The Zebell Family
||Steven Zebell, age 43, & a parent in the Reed- Custer
School District passed away unexpectedly in August of 2018.|
Steven & Crystal have three daughters; Gabrean Grundin (Steven's
step-daughter) 19 lives in FL., Zeyda 12 and Skylar 10 live at home &
attend Reed- Custer Schools. Steven has been the sole provider for the past
two years. He was employed with Ace Hardware in Braidwood, IL as the Assistant
Manager. He loved family outings, playing video games with his girls, watching
movies with his family.
There has been a Go Fund Me set up to help thefamily with expenses.