Journey of Encouragement
by Sherri Bradley
Our son’s name is Eric Bradley, and he was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) at birth, as was his older brother James.
Eric was diagnosed at nine months with hydrocephalus. A Ventricular-Peritoneal Shunt (VP shunt) was placed in his head to help his body release the extra fluid on his brain (this was a birth defect and had no relation to his CF history).
Eric was in and out of hospitals several times during his young life. For the most part it was CF related, pneumonia, bronchitis, chronic coughing, fevers, or regular tune up visits. Eric’s doctor always kept a very close eye on him, and even at such a young age, his doctors knew that Eric would need surgery someday. As parents we were in disbelief, but we tried not to dwell on it. Instead, we focused on all positive things, and encouraged Eric to be the best he could possibly be in school, sports, and activities. I never wanted him to feel like he couldn’t do something because he had CF.
Eric was happiest when he was with his family and friends. He enjoyed school, basketball, Legos, and playing pool. Even though every day was a constant battle to breathe, eat and exercise, he always had a smile on his face, no matter what. Eric was nine-years-old when his lung transplant journey started.
In November 2006, during our stay in the hospital, our doctors advised us that it would be in Eric’s best interest if we moved to have him close to the University of North Carolina Children’s Hospital, Chapel Hill, NC (UNC). Eric was showing signs of decreased lung function and air movement. Erica and I were at UNC for nine months waiting for the news of a donor.
On March 26th, Eric’s nurse wakened me; she was so excited that Eric might get his new lungs that day. I quickly made airline reservations for his Dad and brothers to fly up and be with us. They arrived and were able to spend time with Eric before his surgery began. It was an all day and all night process. Eric was wheeled into surgery that night, and he has a ‘NEW’ birthday of March 27, 2007 that we celebrate every year, in addition to his June birthday.
Over the next couple of days, they had him up and walking twice a day and doing some light chest therapy. Many wonderful nurses and doctors have blessed Eric during every step of his journey. During his time in recovery, the nurses never saw a patient more loved and cared for than Eric, from all the visitors and phone calls to the doctors who came to check on him—even though Eric wasn’t their patient. His determination to get better and overcome any obstacles in his path showed his doctors that, ‘Eric was a true trooper.’ The third day after his surgery he was having a pizza party in his room, and on another day he was having Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Eric will still have CF in other organs, but his new lungs give him a better quality of life. He is able to play basketball, run, skate, swim, and ride a bike. He likes to go paintballing, play sports, and he is learning to play the tuba in the school band. He calls it, ‘The Beast’, and puts 100% effort into his practice sessions. There’s no getting winded, tired, or having to stop because he needs to cough. He is able to do anything and everything like other nine-year-old boys.
Eric has triumphed over many obstacles in his young life. He has a wonderful outlook on life and a giving, loving spirit, and he is grateful to God. He is also grateful to his family and friends at Foundation Academy for supporting him and loving him unconditionally during his many times of need. Eric puts himself fully into whatever the task before him, and has given hope and encouragement to everyone he meets. Eric never lost faith that God would bless him while in the hospital, and he even did question and answer interviews with many teams of doctors and nurses so they could learn more about him and his Cystic Fibrosis, his emotions, strength, attitude, and courage, his outlook on life, and so much more. God has a plan for Eric, and we thank God for our blessings and using Eric in such a mighty way.
Sherri Bradly, Mother of Eric Bradley
Eric Bradley, 13
Eric, Cystic Fibrosis
Eric, Double Lung Transplant, March 27, 2007 University of North Carolina Hospitals, Chapel Hill, North Carolina