Our story begins with an amazing healthy young man. Brendan Kizer was sixteen years old and full of life. He loved to skateboard, snowboard, play guitar, and be a daredevil. He loved the great outdoors and there was not a moment that went by that he wasn’t doing something to make someone laugh. Brendan was working part-time at the local Walmart while going to school during the day. He always had a smile on his face and a hello for everyone.
On February 14, 2008, Brendan had to go for a biopsy on a spot that had gone from what looked like a pimple to a ball under his arm. As the days passed everyone prayed that everything would be alright, but on February 21st Brendan and his family got the confirmation that it was CANCER.
These words are the words that any parent fears the most to hear out of their doctor’s mouth. Brendan was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Burkitt’s Lymphoma. He was then taken by his mother Robbin, sister Meighan, and close family friend Candy, to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. It was there that they were told that the Burkitt’s is extremely aggressive and rare and that if they hadn’t caught it when they did he would only have had two weeks to live. Of course to hear this was devastating to Brendan, but he refused to give up. He pushed and fought and said “Let’s do it”.
Brendan’s Angels and One Child Too Many, A Brendan Kizer Foundation
Brendan had to go through very aggressive chemotherapy for 4 months before finding out that the cancer had gone into remission. This in itself was a miracle. However, his remission was short lived. Twenty-eight short days later Brendan’s cancer was back and this time it was Burkitt’s Leukemia. This meant even more aggressive chemo, bone marrow transplants, and an even harder fight for his life. After only a few months of the new chemo, Brendan went to clinic on September 21, for his routine check and to see if his counts were good enough for a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, the news that Brendan and his mother received that day was not what they expected at all. Brendan had developed a protein called CD22 on the cancer cells, making them chemo resistant. Brendan, his mother, and the doctor discussed the next step to consider.
They decided that he should go to the National Institute of Health in Maryland for a Phase I Clinical Trial. On September 23, Brendan, his mother Robbin, and family friend Candy headed off to Maryland for uncharted waters. It was a long and hard trip filled with fear, insecurity and hope making every second of the drive seem like it would take forever to get to the Institute. When they arrived at NIH in Maryland Brendan began going through tests and preparation for the administration of a drug. After nearly a week, Brendan received the first dose of a drug that had never been given to a human at this dose. Within 24 short hours Brendan’s liver enzymes were elevating to dangerous levels and his liver was beginning to shut down. Brendan was never given the second dose of the drug as his health started to deteriorate and now his liver and kidneys were shutting down.
On October 2, the decision was made that Brendan would be transported back to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia per his request and his family’s wishes. Sometime during the mid afternoon hours of October 2, Brendan slipped into a coma. On October 3, Brendan, his mother, and his father were transported via ambulance back to CHOP; following behind the ambulance were his sister, his girlfriend and a small army of his friends.
Brendan arrived at CHOP and while being connected to his oxygen and IV’s Brendan Michael Kizer opened his eyes, looked around at his mom and dad, gave a very small smile, and passed quietly on to Heaven. Although Brendan’s physical battle with cancer has ended, the battle for helping other children like him continues through us. We all have learned through Brendan that, no matter what, if we look at the world positively, we can make a difference and with Brendan now silently at our sides we continue his mission as Brendan’s angels.