GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - 8-year-old Gavin Bryson was born with a Hemangioma tumor.
I'd never heard of it either.
That type of tumor means he has "an abnormal buildup of blood vessels on the skin and internal organs". Gavin's is on his back. This Gaston County boy has had 31 surgeries where his tumor is located.
Think about that. Thirty-one surgeries in the same place.
"After each of Gavin's surgeries he has the biggest smile," said Angela, Bryson's mom. "I'm not sure how. He always keeps our spirits up."
Despite the tumor being NON-cancerous, Gavin has to face chemo treatments for the rest of his life.
The good news, his mom says, is that his chemo is working well. He's also on medicine for ADHD and ODD. Recent scans show positive results with all treatments.
The Bryson family keeps the road hot, traveling to lots of doctor's appointments in Winston Salem.
"Although the journey has been tough, we wouldn't have our life any other way," Angela said. "Gavin is a strong little boy."
And it sounds like he's ALL boy.
Baseball, fishing, gem mining, skate boarding and Legos are his favorite activities. He watches NASCAR, especially when Martin Truex Jr. is racing, and lights up anytime the Carolina Panthers play (he loves cheering on Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly). His mom says he enjoys going to church and is happiest when his Dachshund, Levi, is by his side.
And… Gavin adores America.
"He's a patriotic kid," Angela says. "He raises the American flag any chance he can get."
The Bryson family says it wants you to know about Gavin's story to put the term "Hemangioma tumors" out there publicly. Again, they're NOT cancerous – Gavin doesn't have cancer – so his battles aren't something we'll focus on next month for Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month.
But they still affect a lot of kids. Hemangioma are the most common tumor of childhood and infancy.
"You would never know Gavin is battling a heartbreaking disease when you look at him," Angela said. "But he deals with it every day. Maybe this can help create a network in our area for those who live with this type of illness."
Thanks for writing, Angela. Thanks for sharing your son.
**Editor's note: This is about one of #MollysKids, children WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham follows closely on her Facebook page. It was first published there – which is why it's written in a personal way. For years Molly has followed hundreds of kids with uphill medical battles. Find this story and updates on all #MollysKids here.**