Cullman family copes with baby’s cancer diagnosis

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Brixton Attaway (Sadie Attaway)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Parents Sadie and Derrick Attaway of Cullman recently experienced a serious health scare when one of their twins, 11-month-old Brixton Attaway, was diagnosed with group C retinoblastoma in October.  

A few months ago, before an appointment with their pediatrician, Sadie Attaway took a picture of him with the flash on her phone turned on. She noticed a white glare in his left eye which at first, she said, she thought was simply from the flash. She mentioned the glare to her pediatrician who recommended visiting an eye doctor.  

“We went on a Friday and after being seen, our doctor immediately referred us to a specialist. She told us the high chance of it being retinoblastoma, so we knew before the official diagnosis, that was a big possibility. Our appointment with the specialist wasn’t until Thursday, so for almost a week we were scared but trying our best to stay positive and pray, pray, pray,” she said. “I added myself to some Facebook groups and started doing a lot of research. It was actually pretty terrifying the stories I was finding, so my husband and I agreed we didn’t need to look anything up anymore and just wait for our appointment. Going into that appointment, we were so nervous, and we had prepared ourselves, but hearing those words ‘I’m so sorry, it is retinoblastoma’ – nothing can really prepare you for the feelings that come with finding out your baby has cancer. Honestly, there aren’t words to describe that.” 

After their appointment, the Attaways went straight to an oncologist to get a plan together. Brixton Attaway has since gone through two rounds of chemotherapy.  

Retinoblastoma can be genetic or sporadic and is usually detected before the age of 5. “So, with Brixton being a twin we also had to worry about his brother,” said his mom. “Thankfully our daughter is already 5 and had no signs, so they were mainly concerned about having our other son checked as well.” 

This week, the Attaways received results from genetic testing that showed Brixton Attaway’s retinoblastoma is not genetic. His twin brother Baylor Attaway was also tested and has no signs of the same condition.  

Brixton Attaway still has six months left of chemotherapy treatments, which are twice a month. He’ll also have an eye exam once a month. He will start having laser treatments once a month to help continue to shrink the tumor. Sadie Attaway said his doctors are confident they will be able to save his eye and most of his vision. 

“This is honestly something no parent ever thinks they will have to go through; we sure didn’t. It has been pretty hard having to watch our baby go through all of this, while also missing out on some things with our other kids,” she said. “We know this is only for a time though, and we will all come out stronger. Honestly Brixton has been an absolute rock star about this whole process so far. He is already so much stronger than I ever could have imagined. There have obviously been some very hard days, but for the most part he has still been his happy little self and we are so thankful for that!” 

The family has received overwhelming support from friends and neighbors. “There have been so many cards, kind words, prayers, gift baskets, donations and some of our amazing friends have already set up two fundraisers for us,” Sadie Attaway said  

On Mandy Leonardi and Sadie Attaway’s Facebook pages, supporters can find Brixton Strong shirts for sale. To order, message Leonardi or Attaway on Facebook.   

A Sips n Strokes Design Your Own Door Hanger fundraiser event organized by Leonardi to help pay for the family’s medical expenses will be held Sunday, Jan. 8, at 3 p.m. in the Vinemont High School gym.  Guests can register at https://tinyurl.com/battaway.   

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