The Dallas resident has “been there and done that,” as she calls her journey with her late son, Brody, and, because of it, has the memories and courage to help other families walking down a path she called a parent’s worst nightmare.
It was on May 26, 2009, less than a year and a half after he was diagnosed, that the Bates’ youngest son, 8-year-old Brody, died of a brain tumor.
As the director of patient and family services with the Atlanta-based Brain Tumor Foundation for Children for the past year, Bates and her family, husband Vince, and oldest son, Brockton, 17, were among those honored at the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children’s Flight of the Butterflies: A Tribute to Our Heroes and Angels event April 5 at the Atlanta History Center.
In addition to the recognitions, the highlight of the event was a video presentation of youngsters who had died of the disease, including Brody.
It began as a mass on the back part of his brain in 2007 and, after months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, a second MRI showed Brody’s cancer had spread throughout his brain and into his spine.
Now, Bates has turned her family’s loss into an enduring effort to help others.
“Brody’s attitude, courage and determination during his battle with brain cancer, I sincerely believe, led me to help other families going through exactly what we did,” she said.
She remembered that throughout Brody’s battle, he never talked about himself.
“He was always more interested in how the other children, suffering as he was and looking as he did with no hair, were doing,” she said.
Inspired by her son’s interest in other children and believing it was something he would have wanted her to do, Bates is now working with other families facing the same situation as she did.
“It is a way for my family and me to give back to the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children, which so steadfastly supported us,” she said