Niagara Gazette — Nathan Brundage knew he had to smile Saturday. As he got dressed in the morning, the 17-year-old volunteer firefighter prepared himself to entertain about a thousand of his closest friends and family members.
Even the ones he’d never met before.
Every last person he shook hands with, in his presence because a six-centimeter tumor was discovered in his brain this past winter, offered words of encouragement or a smile of their own.
Considering the past couple weeks the young man’s endured, the party atmosphere packed in to the Lewiston No. 2 Fire Co. hall for a benefit in his honor helped ease his mind, he said.
“It’s been pretty much a waiting game because my platelets have been low,” he said. “So we’ve been trying to get those back up. They’ve slowly gone back up, so that’s good news for me. I like hearing that news. But this is even better. That you can have a benefit like this, laugh with everybody, have a good time, take your mind off things, it’s great.”
Nathan was diagnosed with grade-IV glioblastoma, a type of cancer that forms from the glue-like supportive tissue of the brain, according to the American Brain Tumor Association. Highly reproductive and fueled by the body’s natural blood flow, the association reports these cancers are highly malignant and come with few treatment options and rather grim patient outlooks five years out.
It began when he was hit in the head during a dodgeball game in gym class. The Niagara-Wheatfield High School junior shrugged it off as a possible concussion, though his mother, Angela Price, said less than a month later, Nathan was displaying stroke-like symptoms.
He underwent surgery but his family was warned there was more than a chance the volunteer firefighter, who’d given his last two years in service to Lewiston No. 2, could emerge paralyzed or worse. Instead, doctors told his family the procedure removed about 95 percent of the tumor, which was located behind his nose.