Favor Hamilton behind event for child cancer patients

3 local children share their survival stories
Favor Hamilton behind event for child cancer patients

An event Saturday morning in Middleton could positively impact more than 10,000 children with cancer in the United States.

“Suzy’s Run/Walk’ aims to raise awareness and funds for kids with cancer. While thousands of kids across the country are affected, here are three Madison-area stories of kids battling cancer — and the odds.

Not much slows Brinley Hicks down. She swings, runs, plays frolics, even fights, with the best of them.

“You never expect to hear those words spoken to you and when they are, it just stops your whole world,” explains Brinley’s mother, Heidi Hicks, of Brinley’s initial diagnosis.

After the shock, there’s confusion. “You don’t know what to do or what to think or where to go,” said Heidi.

Then, finally, nine months later, comprehension came for the Hicks family.

“My name is Heidi Hicks and my daughter Brinley was diagnosed with Wilms’ Tumor in November 2011,” recalled Heidi.

Brinley’s tumor was the size of a softball and pushing on her kidney. But had it not been for a bad fall, Brinley’s condition could have been worse.

“We look at it now as a blessing in disguise because had she not fallen, it could have spread to her lymph nodes, her liver, to different parts of her body that may not have been as curable as it is now,” said Heidi.

Twenty-five weeks of chemo later and one kidney short, three-year-old Brinley is cancer free.

“Be sure and hug the ones you love and tell them you love them before you may not be able to,” said Heidi.

Inside 17 Flagstaff Court in Madison, unconditional love rules, too.

Not just for one another and the community, but a hospital that brought Andrew Grabner back to life.

“I remember writing on his website when I heard him laugh again because I hadn’t heard him laugh in so long,” said Mischelle Grabner, Andrew’s mother.

Andrew was in pain. He was tired He was just two years old and trying to survive something his parents couldn’t stop.

“My name is Mischelle Grabner and my son Andrew has B-cell, which is leukemia,” said Mischelle.

Mom counts 16 more months of treatment to go.

Dad Kevin says, “It was basically out of his system in the first month, but they have to keep treating him so it doesn’t come back.”


The intermittent inspections that will follow will wane, while their relationship with the devoted doctors won’t.

“Not only are they wonderful people, they’re wonderful with the children and Andrew just loves them,” said Mischelle.

“I wanted to be a pro dancer because I always was in love with dancing and now I’m kind of thinking I want to go in the doctor area, like the nurses and RNs,” explained Breanna Seif.

The 14-year-old’s future looks bright. Clothes shopping and starting school are a few of her favorites, but talking about what torments definitely isn’t.

“I was never thinking that I was a girl that was going to have it,” said Breanna, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia last year.

She lost her long hair and several friends, while mom couldn’t keep her job and take care of Breanna, too.

“When am I going to catch a break, when is this going to get better; there has to be some turning point,” asked Regina Seif, Breanna’s mother.

It would come last year, when a local charity chipped in and paid the Illinois family’s mortgage, gave them gas cards, and made Breanna an honorary starter in Saturday’s Suzy’s Run/Walk.

“I’ve always wondered how I would give back and if this is one way we can give back by helping spread the word, to help provide money for that cause, that’s what we’re here for,” said Regina.

Joining Breanna will be Andrew and Brinley, who are all being treated at Madison’s American Family Children’s Hospital.

They’ll lead Sunday’s race that will start at 10 a.m. at Middleton’s Keva Sports Center.

People can register on the day of the event or online.

Or people can donate to the “Badger Childhood Cancer Network” that is sponsoring the event and also helps families in the Madison area battle childhood cancer, including the ones in this story.

Donations can be made online here or donations can always be mailed to the office at BCCN, P.O. Box 5624, Madison, WI 53705.