Six years ago my life changed forever. Over a week of headaches and nausea prompted me to bring my son to the local ER. One CT scan later I was shown the source of the problem, a large mass in the center of his brain. After a very long brain surgery and a week of waiting anxiously in the hospital we were told our son had a grade 4 brain tumor and would likely only have 12-24 months to live.
I started researching the best treatment plans which led us to MD Anderson in Houston, Texas. We packed up everything and moved hundreds of miles away from everyone we knew. There Brayden would undergo 2 more surgeries, 2 rounds of radiation, multiple rounds of chemo, and more scans and blood draws than I can count. Outside of the hospital we tried to make Brayden’s life as normal as possible and focused on making as many memories as we could. We truly realized for the first time what the saying life is short really means and we made the most of every moment.
After 13 months of fighting cancer Brayden took his last breath in my arms. It will forever be the worst moment of my life. The little boy who I had snuggled and loved for 5 years was gone. Brayden’s smile and love of life was infectious. Some of the people who knew him described him as a light. He was always happy and wanted to spread that happiness to those around him. Whether it was hugging everyone he met(even cashiers and pizza guys weren’t exempt) or telling his family members they were the best ever, he was always making the people around him feel loved.
In the months after Brayden’s death I struggled to find the motivation to get out of bed. Memories of those last moments made it hard to sleep. Eventually I started to look for ways to deal with the pain. I decided to start running as a way to improve my depression. In the process I made friends with a group of women online who were also using exercise to better their lives. I found we had a common problem, keeping our hair out of our faces when we were working out. I tried many headband options from the store but nothing worked. Asking around in the group provided a couple solutions but they either weren’t quite what I was looking for or were expensive. So I decided I was going to put my sewing machine to use and make my own worry free headband. After a few attempts and some trial runs I finally found my solution, what would eventually become the non-slip Brady Band. I showed my headbands to the ladies in my online group and a lot of them wanted to buy one. So after some nudging from them and my husband I decided to start an online shop. I knew I wanted my business to have a name that meant something to me and that I wanted to donate to childhood cancer. And so in January 2013 Brady Bands was born.
So much has changed over the last 4 years yet so much remains the same. I’m not sewing each headband at my kitchen table like I was in the beginning. Thankfully I have some local seamstresses that help with that job now, although I still sew some headbands from time to time. My husband and son will help out when I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. Most the time I bribe them with food. I have another friend who helps me with random thing here and there but for the most part this business is a one woman show. I am the one who designs the patterns, preps the material, manages the website and social media, takes and edits the photos, orders all the material and supplies, and answers all the emails and messages. It can be a lot of work but its so rewarding. Every email or comment I receive from a customer saying how much they love their Brady Bands makes it worth it.
Brady Bands is much more than a business to me, its personal. Its my connection to my son. Its my way of continuing his legacy and telling his story. Its my way to donate more money than I ever could alone to a cause that means so much to me. Since I started Brady Bands over 4 years ago we have donated tens of thousands of dollars to childhood cancer research. Thats the thing that makes me the most proud. Because so little(only 4%) of federal cancer research funding is spent on childhood cancer research. Forty three children are diagnosed with cancer everyday in the US. Out of those kids 1 in 8 will not survive making it the number one disease killer of children in the US. That is why every headband we sell matters. A dollar or two from each headband is donated to childhood cancer research. While that may not should like a lot those dollars add up. One day I hope that a cure is found so no family has to experience the pain of watching their child fight this horrible disease. Until that day I will keep donating as much as I can to research because that is what Brayden would want me to do.
To read more about Brayden’s battle with cancer click HERE.