HJ/EDEnterprise Dispatch, Nov. 21, 2005

Cokato boy recovering from brain tumor

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

It started out as a small white speck on a Magnetic Resonance Imaging, (MRI) scan, nothing to worry about if it didn’t change. One month later, Kendall Brunko’s doctor was alarmed at how much it had grown, said the Cokato boy’s mother, Teresa.

The fourth grader had gone to Rochester with his mother for his regular twice-a-year check-up for neurofibromatosis, an unrelated condition. After the harmless looking white speck was discovered in the right back of his skull, a month later, Teresa took Kendall back to Mayo Clinic in October for an eye appointment, she said.

The doctor told Teresa that the area of the brain behind Kendall’s eyes was “full,” Teresa said.

The doctor ordered another MRI and saw that the white speck had grown larger. “She didn’t like the look of it,” Teresa said.

A surgeon was consulted immediately and brain surgery was scheduled for Friday of the same week.

Surgeons removed the entire tumor, and at first, it didn’t look dangerous, Teresa was told.

When pathologists examined it under a microscope, however, they saw it was malignant. The doctors started Kendall on a six-week regimen of radiation and chemotherapy to make sure the cancer “stays gone,” Teresa said.

The tumor, a grade three, is the kind that could come back, she added.

While Kendall is being treated, he and Teresa are staying at the Ronald McDonald House, about 15 minutes from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. They come home on weekends to their house on Highway 12, across from the Cokato Laundromat, Teresa said.

Kendall is in about his third week of treatment and he doesn’t feel well. Usually he likes to play the video game, “Midnight Club Dub III,” and watch scary movies, but last week the lights bothered his eyes, Teresa said.

Kendall also likes pepperoni pizza with extra cheese but the treatments make him feel not very hungry. Sometimes Kendall sleeps in the car on the way home and then feels better when he gets back to Cokato, Teresa said.

Kendall’s classmates at Cokato Elementary School can’t visit him in Rochester because it is too far away. They can stay in touch with him, though, through the Internet on “Caring Bridge.”

To contact Kendall, go to www.caringbridge.org. Click on “home,” then “visit.” Go to site name, “Kendall Brunko,” and double click on “visit.”

Kendall’s teacher, Chad Elston, and his classmates have been making cards and banners for him, said Lorene Force, principal at his school. The school district staff collected money to help pay some of Kendall’s expenses, she said.

On Friday, Dec. 16, the fourth graders in Cokato hold their craft stores. The four classes conclude an economic unit by having each student make a craft at home and then “sell” it at a Christmas store they each make from their desks, she said.

Part of the proceeds from the stores will go to Kendall’s expenses. The rest of the proceeds from the store will go to the food shelf and Habitat for Humanity.

Dassel Elementary School third graders will do the same thing for Kendall Friday, Dec. 16, and Monday, Dec. 19, said teacher Heidi Little.

The Rev. Wally Glucklich of Elim Mission Church of Cokato said there might be a benefit for Kendall, open to the public, in January 2006, and the funds collected will be matched by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

Donations for Kendall Brunko are being collected by the Cokato ministerial association. Make the check out to “United Church Fund of Cokato” and mail it to Good Shepherd Free Lutheran Church, 5939 Oliver Ave. SW, Cokato, MN 55321.

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