A Frankfort boy battled 4 brain surgeries before he turned 12-years-old. The fifth is the one saving his life.

12 years old Ahmed Merdanovic starting getting headaches when he was only 9. "He never complained," says mom Jennifer Curtis, who 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."

MRI results showed the constant noise Ahmed was hearing was coming from a tumor the size of a softball in his brain. "Doctors told us it had blocked the flow of the cerebral spinal fluid," Jennifer says. "We were sent to Syracuse immediately. I wanted a second opinion but they told us there was no time. He needed emergency surgery or he'd slip into a coma."

It wasn't just one surgery. 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," says Jennifer. "We flew down and Ahmed had surgery within a couple days of us arriving."

Ahmed spent 10 weeks at St Jude. "It's an amazing place," he says. "I always knew I was being taken care of. Everyone is so nice and welcoming."

Mom knew her son would be taken care of too. "Everything happened so quick. 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, that Ahmed says it not like an actual hospital, treats so much more than just the cancer too. "Doctors here would treat the tumor, but at St Jude they treat the entire patient," Jennifer explains. "Everything the tumor causes has so many side effects and they treat that too so he could have a better quality of life."

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 five years.  "We met them last year at St Jude," says mom Christine Jones. "It's crazy to think there’s a one in 2 million chance of a child having this tumor and these two lives so close."

Ahmed will go back to St Jude later this month but there's a lot to be hopeful about. "There's a little bit left but they are hoping with radiation it won't grow back," says Jennifer.

Ahmed has his life back and all it cost his mom was one phone call to St Jude. "They never sent us a bill for anything," says Jennifer. Not for treatment. Not for housing. Not for food. Not for travel. At St Jude, they believe all the parent should worry about is caring for their child.

"We are just blessed because of St Jude," says Ahmed, who has one important message. "Donate. To. St Jude."

You can help save a life by becoming a Partner in Hope. Call the Express Employment Service phone bank at 800-995-5257 or donate to the Country Care Radiothon with Drain Masters, online.

Frankfort Boy Given Hope at St Jude

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