Spokane Valley teen defies the odds in cancer battle

For seven months the Cherne and Ryan Haskell thought their son Braden’s love of junk food was the reason they were spending so much time at the doctor’s office.

“He’s a 14-year-old boy. His diet is terrible,” explained Cherne.

Braden had been having intermittent stomach pain, but exams and tests showed nothing.

“He had just finished basketball. Did a whole season of that. It was right after basketball was over. He was feeling really sick and I thought maybe he was depressed,” added Ryan.

Statistically, even that seemed more likely. Another visit to the doctor and the emergency room showed nothing wrong.

“We made an appointment to the specialist and that’s when we caught it,” said Ryan.

A nine-centimeter colon tumor. The doctor could not even finish the colonoscopy.

“The reaction, which you don’t want to hear from your doctor, is ‘I’ve never seen this before,'” Cherne said.

It was worse. The cancer spread to his liver. It was there they found a 15-centimeter tumor.

“Even when they said it was cancer I still didn’t realize the severity of it. It wasn’t until I asked what are the percentages of him beating this thing and he said less than five percent,” said Ryan.

How would they tell Braden?

“I just remember he looked at me and he said, ‘Am I going to die?’ And obviously I said, ‘No, you are not going to die. We are going to beat this. We are going to fight.’ But gosh, at that moment. I felt, am I lying to Braden?” Cherne said.

The Haskells immediately assembled a team of doctors at Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Treatment began immediately.

Just as quick, their Spokane Valley community, friends and family, both near and far, rallied around them with care packages, meal trains, fundraisers – even printing out sheets to keep track of the dozens of pills Braden needed to take daily.

“We had people from our church come down, sitting in the Ronald McDonald room, we wouldn’t even know they were there and they were there praying for Braden,” said Cherne.

A few weeks in, chemotherapy was not working.

“I think the scariest moment was Mother’s Day weekend,” Cherne said.

Braden’s colon tumor was causing a major blockage in his system. He was rushed in to surgery.

“That surgery was probably the best thing that happened to him,” explained Ryan. “His last scans showed there was no signs of a tumor on his liver which his doctors are saying is an absolute miracle.”

The Haskells are sharing their story to empower other parents.

“You have to be an advocate for yourself and you have to be an advocate for your child,” said Cherne.

“If your kid has stomach pains, it does not hurt to get a colonoscopy done. It’s rare but it is happening more and more,” said Ryan.

So what’s next for Braden? The Haskells said his immunotherapy treatment was a game changer in his treatment. It began after the surgery to remove the colon. Braden will continue with treatment for the foreseeable future.

The Haskells are also welcoming reintroducing normalcy into their household once again. In addition to returning to school, Braden will begin driver’s education next month and celebrate his 15th birthday. He also will be going to the Homecoming dance at his high school.