Im­mea­sur­able strength: ‘He never ac­knowl­edged he was go­ing to die’

Fam­ily dev­as­tated af­ter brave son Bray­den Wood, 17, loses 18-month can­cer bat­tle

Rotorua Daily Post - - Front Page - Cira Olivier

Through a mask at­tached to a ven­ti­la­tor, sur­rounded by his fam­ily and in the arms of his fa­ther, Bray­den Wood looked up and said: “It’s okay dad, I’m not go­ing any­where.” The 17 year old sig­nalled to his fa­ther he was okay and then slipped away.

Even then, Bray­den, nick­named Boo, was more wor­ried about oth­ers than what was hap­pen­ing to him.

“That’s just Boo,” his fa­ther, Bren­dyn Wood, said.

Bray­den was di­ag­nosed with acute lym­phoblas­tic leukaemia 18 months ago.

Af­ter the di­ag­no­sis he trav­elled reg­u­larly be­tween Ro­torua, to be close to fam­ily, and Auck­land’s Star­ship hospi­tal for spe­cialised care and count­less treat­ments.

He died on May 8, leav­ing his fam­ily dev­as­tated and in dis­be­lief.

Whether it was on a rugby field, reel­ing in fish af­ter fish, hunt­ing, or play­ing the Game of Life, Bray­den played a hard game but did so with com­pas­sion and a smile.

The only thing big­ger than his deter­mi­na­tion to live was his love of other peo­ple — and their love of him, his mother, El­iz­a­beth Lee, told the Ro­torua Daily Post.

What Bray­den learned on the rugby field play­ing for Whakare­warewa, Ro­torua Boys’ High and then in Welling­ton, where his dad lives, shaped his courage go­ing into his bat­tle with can­cer, Lee said.

His re­lent­less deter­mi­na­tion saw him fight to his last breath.

“He never ac­knowl­edged he was go­ing to die,” Lee said, re­mem­ber­ing her son’s im­mea­sur­able strength. “I miss my son.”

Bray­den’s death was a sur­prise. “No­body re­ally saw what hap­pened com­ing,” his fa­ther said.

“He wanted ev­ery­one to know he’d beaten can­cer, the can­cer was gone.”

Doc­tors had been con­fi­dent his mother was a rare match for his bone mar­row and Bray­den had the trans­plant in late Fe­bru­ary.

But a fun­gal in­fec­tion he had been fight­ing while re­ceiv­ing chemo­ther­apy flared up.

He had been in Star­ship for six weeks when his fa­ther trav­elled up af­ter an X-ray showed a shadow on his lungs.

“We weren’t plan­ning to have a fu­neral, we were plan­ning on go­ing up there, get­ting him through an­other hurdle and com­ing home.

“As far as we knew, we were headed for the fin­ish line.”

The day be­fore Bray­den died was his fa­ther’s 50th birth­day. His mother’s birth­day was two days be­fore that.

Bray­den still man­aged to get a nurse to help him make a card for his fa­ther and get him some choco­late. “That’s just Boo,” Wood said. “I think he had a feel­ing things weren’t good but he kept fight­ing and fight­ing.”

The sum­mer lead­ing up to Bray­den’s sud­den death had been a glim­mer of life re­turn­ing to nor­mal. He had got his driver’s li­cence, cel­e­brated his 17th birth­day and gone

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