“I was so happy. I ran around the house screaming! And my whole school was excited.” This was Brock’s first reaction when he learned that his family would be going to a resort in the Bahamas, thanks to Children’s Wish.
He had given a lot of thought to his wish: “I thought about Greece because I love ruins. Then I thought about Disney. But I love swimming, and I’ve always wanted to go somewhere with clear blue water. Science is my best subject – my dream is to be a marine biologist.”
The resort provided non-stop fun and fuelled Brock’s passion. “We got to do so much… interact with sea lions, go to beautiful beaches with palm trees and snorkel. They had waterslides. And fancy restaurants.” Brock celebrated his eleventh birthday by swimming with dolphins.
For Brock’s 9-year-old brother Trent, the highlights were meeting American Idol winner Kris Allen in the line for the waterslide “and we got the coolest sonic spin toothbrushes!” Brock has McCune Albright Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects the bones, skin and pigmentation. Even more rarely, it can cause tumours near the pituitary gland, which affect growth hormones. Brock has such a tumour behind the optic nerve, which means he is at high risk for blindness, deafness and growth abnormalities.
Brock also has fibrous dysplasia throughout his whole body and his skull; his bones are highly prone to breaks and fractures, which sometimes occur spontaneously. In second grade, he spent three months in a body cast and had titanium rods inserted into his femur from hip to knee. “It was horrible,” he says quietly. But his positive attitude and zest for life quickly return. “My classmates and teachers were amazing. We had a pizza party here every Saturday, and my teacher came four days a week after school so I could keep up.”
His brothers kept his spirits up too. “We really missed playing with him when he was so sick,” says 7-year-old Carter.
Although Brock is athletically inclined, most sports are off limits because of the risk of injury. It’s hard watching his friends and younger brothers do things that most boys take for granted, such as playing baseball or jumping on a trampoline. But swimming is allowed, “and I did a lot in the Bahamas,” he says.
Because his condition is so rare, Brock must travel far afield to find specialists versed in his disorder. Family vacations often mean a 10-hour drive to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland where his condition is monitored, and he receives experimental treatments. “This made the trip to the Bahamas even more special,” says Graham, Brock’s father.
“We have so much stress and upheaval in our lives,” says his mother Patti, who at one point suffered a heart attack when she was struggling to find answers and treatment. “But I am at peace, knowing that whatever the future holds, we are doing everything we possibly can for Brock. Through this journey we have met so many exceptional children and we have learned something from each of them. Our family has been blessed to have had these experiences and to have each other.”
“We were able to get away together as a family and simply have fun. The impact on our lives has been incredible.”