For Wyatt’s first four years he was always on the go. At five, he started complaining of headaches and mom Christine thought he might just be dehydrated. One headache became so debilitating that Christine took him to the doctor at Children’s Hospital in Bakersfield on May 2, 2019. The diagnosis was a DIPG brain tumor, chiari malformation and hydrocephalitis, the last requiring a shunt. Wyatt’s parents were told that the brain tumor was fatal. The doctor’s there referred the family to a hospital in San Francisco where he was told there were very little options other than chemotherapy and radiation. So, hours and miles of driving to doctors began.
Christine learned of a doctor in Michigan who was researching a trial drug for this type of brain tumor. Wyatt was accepted into the trial, and AFW flew father and son where the doctor performed new tests. It was discovered that Wyatt had a different type of brain tumor more rare than previously diagnosed; however, just as fatal with nine to 18 months to live. Wyatt is in his 10th month. He was allowed to remain in the trial, but as the year has progressed, Wyatt’s body is failing. Parts of his limbs are locking so it is difficult for him to sit especially if he has to drive five hours again to San Francisco if he is let out of the trial. He is also losing speech, which is becoming “frustrating for him and for us,” Christine says.
Wyatt’s parents have used AFW only a few times. Christine says, “We can afford to drive ourselves, but that’s not the point. Driving five hours with my husband and I both having to take time off work has become a burden. And having a 13-year-old at home alone also takes time away from our family. Flying with AF has been a blessing and the pilots are just amazing. Dennis Bracken, who flew Wyatt, told me that he does it because it’s his passion to fly and that he wants to use his service for people who need it. I know the truth of this because it shows.” Christine asks anyone who listens to donate to AFW because she has experienced the toll it takes to care for a seriously ill and very loved child.