Parents’ tribute to loving teen
to Australia to see his grandfather before Christmas.
He spent summer in his favourite place, Russell, in Northland, spending 40 days with family, fishing and diving.
“He slayed fish, he caught fish every day,” Wood said.
He would joke his cancer treatment had left him a teenager in the body of an 80-year-old. But he still got up at 5am each summer day to go fishing. Russell will be Brayden’s final resting place.
He yearned to be back on the rugby field so would act as a personal trainer for his Uncle Craig, exercising in whatever way he could.
“That kid just wanted to keep going,” Wood said.
After the best summer, Brayden returned to Paraparaumu with his father and his partner and went to school.
He was proud of his hair, which had grown back curly, and excited to finally get back to school.
Last year, a Givealittle page was set up to fund Sativex, a drug that costs $1000 a month. Wood said it had given Brayden strength and helped him recover from his chemotherapy.
It did a great job helping with the pain and negative side effects of the treatment he had had.
Despite “horrible stuff happening to him” through his treatment, he always had a smile, and always thanked the nurses, despite the pain he was in, Wood said.
“That’s just Boo. Everyone who knew him, loved him,” both parents said.
Wood had been visiting Brayden at the hospital for four days when Brayden started having breathing difficulties, “like he was continually running a marathon”.
“He put up one hell of a fight.” He was still conscious and coherent, despite the amount of oxygen he received usually making people incoherent.
“He had his whiteboard and he was still communicating, he was smiling. He was squeezing my hand so hard it was like he was going to break my hand.
“He was telling everyone how much he loved them,” Wood said through tears.
He held both his parents’ hands, looking at them, and let them know he was okay.
Brayden died in Wood’s arms, his body unable to handle what it had been through for the last 18 months. His service was held at Osborne Funeral Home last week.
“The doctors did everything they could . . . His body was dying around him.”
Wood said it was as though Brayden’s new immune system was beginning to kick in, which inflamed the tissue in his lungs.
It was described to him as pneumonia combined with an infection that did not allow oxygen to get into his bloodstream and other organs.
A Starship Children’s Health spokeswoman said the nature of acute lymphoblastic leukemia and the associated required therapy could be unpredictable.
“We have great sympathy for the family of Brayden Wood and send them our condolences.”
Wood later found a voicemail Brayden had left, talking about how terrified he was and how much he wanted to keep living his normal life.
“As brave as he was, he was scared.
“He talked about it but never really showed how scared he was. He just put on a brave face and made sure everybody else was okay.
“That’s just Boo.”
Brayden Wood during his JAB Rugby days, playing for Whakarewarewa. The last fish Brayden Wood, 17, caught in Russell over the summer. On an early hunting trip with his father, Brayden Wood was adamant he would carry the antlers. Brayden Wood lost an 18-month battle with leukaemia.