Christopher Brian Brandle was born on October 12, 1999. Chris grew up in Oakland, New Jersey with his dad Brian, his mom Mary and his sister Caitie, who all adored him very much. During his ten years here on earth, he touched many lives with his kindness, his incredible sense of humor and his absolute joy of life. All children are precious, but our family recognized early on that Chris had a special gift that allowed him to enjoy every moment with vigor and make people around him happy. He earned the nickname “The Mayor” at his preschool because of his outgoing nature and popularity.
Chris attended Heights Elementary School in Oakland. He was a very bright student and loved everything about school; learning, his teachers, the before and aftercare program and most importantly his friends. He was very involved in the town recreation program as he loved to play sports, especially baseball and basketball. Chris was a diehard New York Yankees fan and also loved the New York Giants and New Jersey Devils. He especially enjoyed attending games with his dad and watching his beloved teams play. Chris was very close to his extended family and looked forward to spending time with them during birthday celebrations, holidays and summer breaks. He treasured family vacations where he got to spend endless hours at the beach with his cousins.
After returning from a family vacation in August 2009, Chris became very lethargic and complained of headaches. He was taken to NY Presbyterian Hospital on August 14 after an MRI revealed that the cause of his symptoms was a brain tumor. The tumor was successfully removed four days after it was discovered, but Chris’s doctors informed Mary and Brian that he had been diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, a malignant pediatric brain tumor, and would need to undergo aggressive radiation and chemotherapy to hopefully eliminate the cancer from his body. Although this news was devastating, Chris inspired and amazed his family and friends by approaching his treatment with the same zest and positive attitude he had displayed his entire life. In September, Chris and Brian left for Boston to spend 6 weeks at Massachusetts General Hospital where Chris received proton radiation therapy, a specialized form of radiation treatment that reduces the risk of the devastating long-term side effects of radiation.
Mary and Caitie came to visit often and while he was there Chris got to see the sights of Boston, go to Red Sox and Bruins games, and play catch every day with Brian. His goal was to be a star pitcher. Despite being a Yankees fan, Chris’s doctors and caretakers at Mass General became very fond of him and were encouraged by how well he tolerated the radiation treatment.
Chris started chemotherapy in early December at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Each round of chemotherapy required Christopher to be admitted to the hospital for at least a week at a time as well as undergo many long and uncomfortable tests. During his final four months, Chris had to endure more than any person, especially a child, should have to endure. After his first round of chemotherapy proved to be ineffective, Chris had his stem cells harvested which required minor surgery. His stem cells were re-injected during his second round of chemotherapy with the hope that this would help his reduced blood counts recover more quickly. Unfortunately, each subsequent round of chemotherapy proved to be ineffective as Chris had an unusually aggressive form of cancer which progressed quickly and was resistant to each form of chemotherapy and treatment. The disease continued to advance and Chris lost his battle on March 31st, 2010.
There are no words to accurately convey the courage and dignity Christopher displayed during his entire fight, but particularly in the final months of his battle. He simply amazed his family, friends and hospital staff with his strength. Even during the toughest moments, he displayed his sense of humor and wit and was an incredible source of inspiration. Chris has now left this world, but his memory will live on in the hearts of everyone fortunate enough to have known him, and the Christopher Brandle Joy of Life Foundation will continue to honor his spirit.