Small Town Helped Cure Cancer-Stricken Teen Whose Parents have Cancer, Too

When he was just 12 years old, Holden Bruce was diagnosed with brain tumor. There was no pediatric brain surgeon in the state of Nebraska where Holden’s family lives, but he had two surgeries at an adult clinic in Omaha. The said operations which involved removal of a softball-sized piece of his skull were tough that he had to stay in intensive care for about a week.

Unfortunately, Holden’s cancer returned in 2012, and the Omaha Adult Clinic was not able to operate on him. Not giving up, Holden’s family reached out to Boston Children’s Hospital which has better equipment and experienced surgeons.

Image courtesy of Michelle Bruce

As soon as the doctor set her eyes on Holden’s records, she was positive that she could remove the tumor for good.

It was good news for the family but their relief was short-lived. The surgery, which costs $39,000, is too much for his parents who both have cancer, too—Michelle, the mother, had breast cancer while Jeremy, the father, had thyroid cancer. They have already spent $401,000 on their own treatments, and they still have three more kids to take care of.

Image courtesy of Michelle Bruce

But in the town of Franklin, with a population of just 1,000 people, news travels fast. One day, Michelle received a call from a woman she has not even met who said that she is organizing an event to raise funds for Holden’s surgery. Michelle was overwhelmed with the gesture but realized that a small town such as theirs could not raise the whole amount they need.

On the day of the fundraiser, not even the frigid and icy weather could hinder Franklin residents from participating in the silent auction, free will dinner, and ‘Team Holden’ T-shirt sale. The school cafeteria, where the event was held, was not enough to accommodate the people who showed up that the organizers had to open up the gymnasium to accommodate everyone.

Because of how successful the event turned out, the organizers were able to raise $45,000—more than enough to cover Holden’s surgery and their trip to Boston.

Michelle could not believe that the fundraiser could raise as much.

Holden’s surgery went much more smoother than the previous ones he had. This time, there were no pain and swelling. Though Jeremy and Michelle could not get rid of their cancers, at this point, Holden is cancer-free.

At the moment, Holden is attending Central Community College-Hastings on a full scholarship. After he graduates, he plans to move back to Franklin — the small town who never gave up on him.

Source: Reader’s Digest