Torrington, Wyo. (Story by Denise Heilbrun-Ellis) October 13, 2020 — When babies are born, parents have all these expectations of days ahead. The babies first smile, their first time rolling over, their first steps…but never, ever in their plans is hearing the unbelievable words of “your child has cancer.”
A Torrington family is now dealing with those horrendous words as their two-year old son, Reed, is fighting for his life.
“We were in total shock and fear,” Jessica Gladson said when they first heard the news.
Trent, Jessica, five-year old brother, Carter, and Reed’s twin sister, Maggie Gladson are helping Reed in his fight, along with a community who has stepped up to show their love and compassion for a family who have been long time residents of Goshen County.
After feeling sick for a few weeks and trying to fight off strep throat, a fever and then a rash, Jessica decided after noticing Reed being very irritable and snapping at her for just the littlest things made her concerned and she decided to get him checked again. As time progressed, he started having seizures and was less communicative.
“That was not him at all,” Jessica stated. “He is our laid back, easy-going kid.”
They flew Reed to the Anschutz Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colo. Doctors there had a CT scan that showed a tumor at the frontal part of Reed’s brain that was swelling and causing the seizures. So, doctors performed emergency surgery in the morning to put a drain in the top of his head to release some of the pressure and did biopsies of the tumor. They found a large cyst that was blocking the spinal fluid from moving in the brain like it should. Since having the drain in place and starting medication to help stop the seizures he was doing better.
Pathology reports showed the tumor was positive for cancer. Doctors are not sure what type of cancer it is currently. Also for more bad news, the tumor is in a spot where they are afraid it cannot be all removed, due to it being too deep and close to other parts of the brain that affect the memory/growth/hormones.
Jessica stated that once the doctors got the cancerous part out that they can remove, it will be sent to pathology and they will have a better idea on how to treat it.
Reed had his surgery on Monday, Oct. 5. After the follow-up MRI the neurosurgeon told the Gladson’s he thought it looked “wonderful and way better than expected.” He said they removed 90 percent of the tumor, and that what he saw on the MRI showed that he thinks they might be able to do another surgery and remove the rest of the tumor, but he does still need to meet with the oncologist.
Later in the week Jessica said Reed was very emotional and agitated with everything which is to be expected since he had a major surgery. Plus, she said, he is on so many medicines and several of them are high-risk for causing irritability.
“His brain is still trying to figure things out and it is having a hard time, so it’s kind of a game of adjusting meds back and forth to see what our happy medium is going to be,” Jessica said. “I was so happy to get to hold him today for the first time after surgery as he has been so irritated and we didn’t want to set him off, but today I told him he was going to just have to get over it cause I needed my snuggles ,” she added. “He was upset just for a minute and then snuggled right in. He hasn’t talked at all the last couple of days so of course me being the mom I am, I was getting worried. So, as I was holding him, I said I would be so happy if you would just say one word for me today. After a bit he said “Mommy” then he said “I just resting. My sweet baby made my day and eased my worrying mind.”
Goshen County with the help of many friends and relatives have stepped up this past week and have held many fund-raisers for the Gladson family.
Torrington High School Volleyball Coach Chelsi Jackson wanted to help pay it forward, as her son, Camden, had been diagnosed with an arachnoid cyst that took over half of his skull a few years ago, and the community also stepped up and helped her and her family.
“Boy, does our family relate so much, so many of the same experiences,” Jackson said. “Camden is doing well, and still goes to a neurologist for check-ups every three months.”
On Friday, the THS Volleyball team wore “Rallying for Reed” shirts all day and then both Douglas and Torrington teams wore them for warm-ups. Then Douglas wore their gold jerseys just for Reed. The Blazer volleyball team also held a 50/50 raffle and took donations for the family.
The shirts were made by Kelly Groene and she helped Jackson organize the week and Molly Moorehouse and Emily Yorges helped with the raffle and selling tickets. Groene won the 50/50 raffle and donated all of it back.
Friends Gladdon’s, Brock and Shannon Dyes, headed up the “Rollin’ for Reed” Poker Run, Silent Auction and free-will donation dinner, with all proceeds going to the Gladson family.
Registration was at the Open Brewery in Torrington for the Poker Run. The group, which included, cars, motorcycles and other vehicles, headed to stops at Guernsey, Lusk, Lingle then headed back to the Open Brewery for the free-will donation dinner, consisting of BBQ sandwiches, deviled eggs, baked beans, potato salad, veggies and desserts.
“Trent attended the events yesterday (Saturday) so he could thank everyone in person for all they’ve done,” Jessica said
The silent auction located at the brewery had items from all over the spectrum, from beautiful artwork to tools, cupcake kits, UW items and too many items to mention.
“I want to thank everyone that made this day happen,” said Brock Dykes. “This young man pulled at my heart strings as well as a lot of other folks. Today was an amazing day for a ride and an even better day for people to come together. Gladson family I am praying for you and hope everything turns around. Thank you to everyone that came out for the run today.”
Also, 28th Avenue Dance Studio held a Halloween Costume Sale with all proceeds going toward the family.
“It’s good to see people come out knowing they are contributing for this cause,” said Stephanie Kath, owner/teacher. “We have lots and lots of costumes to choose from.”
The sale will continue this week inside the studio from 3-7 p.m. and all proceeds go to the family.
“We try to do a fund-raiser every year and I heard about this one from some dance mom’s and our teachers,” Kath said.
Gladson’s friend, Nicole Heron, and daughter, Jemma brought Reed’s twin sister and brother to the dance studio to try on outfits. Maggie had fun trying on the outfits. There weren’t too many older boy costumes for Carter though. It has been a trying time for Reed’s siblings and Heron offered to help.
“It’s hard for them because we are never apart especially Maggie and Reed who have never had to be without each other,” Jessica said, “It’s hard for them to understand it all and why we can’t just be home with them. Reed has the best big brother who he turns to when he is upset and a mother hen sister who watches out for him all the time.”
Gladson friend, CJ Bohl, also put out donation buckets all over Torrington in businesses, knowing every penny counts and that Reed still has a long way to go.
The Gladson family is blown away by the amount of attention their crisis is being shown.
“We are so thankful and appreciative of all the community support they have shown for our family,” Jessica said “Everyone has truly gone above and beyond for us and we cannot say thank you enough. We are so proud to be from an amazing community.”
If readers would like to keep with up Reed’s fight, there is a Facebook page called “Fist Bumping With Reed,” which is one of Reed’s favorite things, and there is also a Go Fund Me Page with the same name. Or people may donate to Points West Bank, in Torrington, for donations to the Gladson family.