In November, 16-year-old Hunter Brady started to feel tired and weak and began struggling to breathe, so his parents took him to his pediatrician. He was told he likely had the flu.
His doctor released him and sent him home with antibiotics. But the antibiotics only made his condition worsen.
Brady told People:
“I was on the antibiotics for two weeks and was feeling worse. I had to sleep sitting up. My dad looked at me one night at dinner and said we were going to the hospital.”
After weeks went by and the teen didn’t get better, his dad decided to take him to the hospital for a second opinion at Mease Countryside Hospital in Safe Harbor, Florida. There, a CAT scan revealed that his entire right lung had collapsed. Meanwhile 30 percent of his left lung had collapsed as well.
Hunter’s mother, Cheryl Brady, told People that his doctors said it was “the worst X-ray they had ever seen on a child.”
He was sent to St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital so he could see a pulmonary specialist, who drained fluid from Hunter’s heart and lungs and discovered that the teen did not have the flu at all— he was battling “the most aggressive form of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.”
For months, the cancer had been progressing, but Hunter and his family had had no idea.
Hunter told People:
“I was shocked and so scared. But I knew I could beat this so I stayed positive. I kept a lot of faith.”
In the days since his diagnosis, the resilient teenager has received encouragement from his family and community.
Cheryl told People:
“The community has come together and so many people have reached out. It inspires him to want to push forward and beat this. We feel very blessed by that.”
People reports that on January 8 Hunter started chemotherapy and he continues to fight for his life.
He has lost his hair during chemo treatment and in an act of compassion, friends and family—who have followed his health journey—shaved their heads to support his path to recovery.
His mother posted their pictures on Facebook:
According to the American Cancer Society, Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a cancer that spreads into “at least one organ outside of the lymph system such as the liver, bone marrow, or lungs.” The disease has a five year survival rate of about 65 percent.
Since his diagnosis, the teen has undergone several rounds of chemotherapy and will undergo radiation treatment. To help with medical expenses not covered by insurance, his family created a YouCaring page in hopes of raising $20,000.
According to WFTS a cyberbully took to Instagram to taunt the teen during his health crisis, writing, “you deserve cancer.” However, WFTS reports that Hunter withstood the comments and said he doesn’t care:
“I really don’t. He doesn’t know how it feels.”
Hunter told People that his supporters have encouraged him to overcome his illness and stay strong throughout his cancer treatment.
“There is no turning back. Hearing from people that I’m an inspiration has made me feel better than I ever could have imagined.”
His family and mentors continue to stand by him and have showed him that he “can do whatever [he] put[s] [his] mind to,” reports People.
Hunter is recovering at home after chemo. He took to Facebook to send the message— he’s not giving up.