Community rallies support for Warwick toddler with rare cancer
14-month old Theodore is battling Pineoblastoma, a disease that impacts "one in a million"
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — At just 14 months old, Warwick toddler Theodore Bruhn has already had more surgeries than some see in a lifetime.
After being admitted to Hasbro Children’s Hospital for what his family believed to be a severe stomach bug, Monica Cottrell and her fiancé Marcus Bruhn were sent home with medication to help alleviate symptoms. “He was throwing up a lot, he was starting to lose some coordination so we were just worried,” explains Cottrell.
Not long after Theodore was put to bed, Cottrell heard a strange-sounding cry over the baby monitor that didn’t sit right. “From the time it took for me to walk from the dining room to his bedroom-which is about 30 seconds-he went into a seizure.”
Immediately, the couple rushed their son back to the hospital, where doctors found a massive tumor in the center of his brain that would require immediate emergency surgery. Theodore was diagnosed with Pineoblastoma, a rare form of brain cancer on March 12th that is diagnosed in just 75 children a year. “I mean, the most rarest tumor in the most difficult place for it to be.”
Doctors also found a dangerous amount of fluid in Theodore’s head, and after performing an initial surgery to remove it they were able to return to remove majority of the tumor and a blood clot that had formed beside it. A third surgery is set to take place to help divert the flow of brain fluid properly in the future – and while Theodore’s mother says she is grateful for the doctors performing Theodore’s life-saving procedures, expenses are adding up quickly for the Warwick family.
“I am a stay-at-home Mom, and my husband is a disabled Air Force Veteran,” explains Cottrell, who says the young family is unable to work as they care for their young son.
Thankfully, the community has stepped up to help with a GoFundMe that has raised over $5,000 in just two weeks.
“For such a small state, these people have big hearts,” says Cottrell of Rhode Island residents after relocating to the Ocean State after growing up in the midwest. “We feel the support of all of Rhode Island being Theo Strong.”
Yet the fundraising doesn’t stop there. Karen Dalton, owner of Dare to Dream Ranch which provides mental health support for veterans with P.T.S.D. (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), has offered to host a “fun-raiser” in support of the Air Force family at that ranch. After cancer tore through her own family, Dalton says she knows firsthand the financial burden and heartbreak that comes with the battle. “When you have a child that’s sick, it really rocks your world,” says Dalton. “If I can help in any way, that’s my goal.”
That fundraiser is set to take place May 14th from 11am – 2pm at the Dare to Dream Ranch in Foster, RI with a rain date of May 15th. The event will feature a petting zoo, pony and steer rides, and family-friendly activities. The entry cost is $10 per person.