Whiz Kid of the Week: Brian Downie
School: Home Schooled
What makes Brian a Whiz? His amazing resilience!
In many ways, Brian seems like a typical 5-year-old boy. He is proud of having just lost his first tooth and of sleeping in his new bunk bed at night. His mom, Melanie Downie, describes him as gentle, caring, funny, smart and a great friend. He loves to ride his bike, play board games (especially chess), go to the park, collect bugs and enjoy the great outdoors.
But, unlike the majority of kids his age, he’s not able to do those things with the same freedom that most kids enjoy. In fact, Brian sometimes can’t even go to public places.
When he was 14 months old, Brian was diagnosed with a rare cancer-like blood disorder called Histiocytosis that causes his body to produce an excessive amount of immune cells. These excess white blood cells, which normally fight infections, instead, mistakenly attack the body, and may form tumors that can affect various parts of the body including the bones, skull and other areas.
Over the past four years, Brian has received several different chemo-therapies, steroids, immune boosting medications, blood transfusions and endured many, many long hospital stays. He has also persevered through many x-rays, bone marrow biopsies, spinal taps, MRIs, CAT scans, PET scans and surgeries. In Brian’s world it is normal to go to the hospital multiple times a week, sometimes for extended periods and to continually be poked with needles. Doctors are hopeful that with continued treatment, Brian’s disease will go into remission.
Although he started kindergarten in the fall, Brian was unable to return after winter break because of a relapse. “When he has a chance to do the real 'normal' kid thing I'm happy. Whether it be tickets to an event, a weekend away or just for a moment, do something 'normal' kids do,” said Melanie.
“Through it all," she continued, "Brian has been a fighter and such a sweet natured caring little person who, a majority of the time, has had a great attitude while going through so much. I am so incredibly thankful for the good days he has and that's what's getting him through this fight with Histiocytosis.”
Thank you, Brian, our Whiz Kid of the week, for being such an inspiration!