A Frankfort teen is kicking cancer's butt thanks to St Jude Children's Research Hospital and the generosity of Central New Yorkers.

16-year-old Ahmed Merdanovic battled 4 brain surgeries before he even became a teenager. The fifth was the one that saved his life.

It began when Ahmed started getting headaches when he was only 9. His mom Jennifer Curtis, knew something was wrong when he lined up for a fire alarm at school one day.

"There was no alarm. He was hearing it in his head."

Brain Tumor

MRI results showed the constant noise Ahmed was hearing was coming from a softball-sized tumor in his brain that had blocked the flow of the cerebral spinal fluid. The family was sent to Syracuse immediately.

Jennifer wanted a second opinion but she was told there was no time. Ahmed needed emergency surgery or he'd slip into a coma.

It wasn't just one surgery either. Ahmed went through several over the next few years. After the 4th surgery, Jennifer took matters into her own hands. She'd heard St Jude Children's Research Hospital had seen more brain tumors like Ahmed's than any other hospital.

We contacted the hospital and a doctor called back on a Sunday afternoon, from his personal cell phone, saying he wanted to see us. We flew down and Ahmed had surgery within a couple of days of us arriving."

Photo Credit - Jennifer Curtis
Photo Credit - Jennifer Curtis

10 Weeks at St Jude

Ahmed spent 10 weeks at St Jude getting treatment to battle his brain tumor.

"Everything happened so quickly. It was all new and I didn't know what to do. It was terrifying. But when you walk through the doors at St Jude, all of a sudden you have hope. Everywhere you look there are children battling cancer, but everyone is happy."

The hospital, which Ahmed says is not like any other hospital, treats so much more than just cancer.

 "Doctors here would treat the tumor, but at St Jude, they treat the entire patient. Everything the tumor causes has so many side effects and they treat that too so he could have a better quality of life."

Credit - Jennifer Curtis
Credit - Jennifer Curtis

Rare Tumor

Cranial meningioma may be a rare brain tumor, but St Jude is helping children win their cancer battle every day.

"You meet so many children with the same tumor. You can commiserate with other families and get hope from their journey. It's so uplifting."

One of those families is from Remsen. Anna Jones has the same tumor as Ahmed and she's been cancer-free for the past eight years. The two families met at St Jude several years ago.

"It's crazy to think there’s a one in 2 million chance of a child having this tumor and these two live so close, said Anna's mom Christine."

Read More: Remsen Girl Winning Battle Against Rare Brain Tumor

Ahmed returns to St. Jude for constant follow-ups. He's at his six-month check-up during our Country Cares radiothon and mom says his scans are looking good.

Ahmed is doing well in school, enjoys spending time with family and friends, and even joined the indoor track team at school.

Credit - Jennifer Curtis
Credit - Jennifer Curtis

Help Save Lives

It's all thanks to one phone call to St Jude. And the family has never seen a bill for anything. Not for treatment. Not for housing. Not for food. Not for travel. At St Jude, they believe all the parents should worry about is caring for their child.

We can't St. Jude enough for everything they've done for us and saving Ahmed. They've given us hope and we will always try to give back as St. Jude continually works to improve the outcome of childhood cancer.

You can join Danny Thomas, Jennifer, and all the others supporting the mission by becoming a Partner in Hope during our Country Cares Radiothon, presented by Drain Masters.

Call 800-995-5257 or donate online at St Jude.

"We are just blessed because of St Jude," said Ahmed. "They have done so much for my family. They have done so much for me and other kids around the world to grow up to be healthy in every aspect of life. Please donate to St Jude."

Credit - Jennifer Curtis
Credit - Jennifer Curtis

Thank You Gifts

To thank you for supporting St Jude Children's Research Hospital and becoming a Partner in Hope you'll have the honor of joining the country community with a 'This Shirt Saves Live ' t-shirt AND a We Won't Stop hoodie. The first 100 Partners in Hope will get their choice of 2 vouchers to any Utica Comets hockey game this season or Hoffman Car Wash. One lucky person will win tickets to see Brooks & Dunn at SPAC.

Meet the Patients of St Jude Your Donation Helps Save

Meet the patients of St Jude Children's Research Hospital that your monthly Partner in Hope donations helps save.

Gallery Credit: Credit - Polly McAdams

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