Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Community rallies behind Brune family

Austin, 6, battles brain tumor, benefit set for December 10


The Brune family - (clockwise from bottom left) Aurora, Anora, Chay, Kayla and Austin - bands together in support of 6-year-old Austin, who is battling an inoperable brain tumor.

Life was normal for the Brune family. Six-year-old Austin and his sisters, Aurora, 4, and Anora, 3, were normal kids who liked to watch cartoons and play games on a handheld device.

Life changed drastically for the family when Austin had a seizure on St. Patrick's Day.

"That was the first time I had seen that," said his mother, Kayla, in an interview in their home in Moose Lake last week. "It happened at 10:30 at night. He vomited and was unresponsive. I called the ambulance and he was transported to Mercy Hospital, where they did a CT scan. They said they found something."

Austin was transported from Mercy to Children's Hospital in Minneapolis that same night, where he had an MRI.

"The worst part was they said they found a tumor on the lower temporal lobe of his brain, and it was inoperable," Kayla said.

Since then, Austin has had more seizures. The second one did not happen at home, it happened when the family was traveling to Bemidji.

"That time, he was airlifted from Bemidji to Children's Hospital," Kayla explained.

Both Kayla and her husband, Chay, are employed at Black Bear Casino. He is a valet and she is the supervisor of the valet department,.

Kayla has had to take time off of work to stay with Austin.

"I was going to go back to work but Austin had another seizure," she said.

Austin has had radiation treatments, which shrunk the size of the tumor.

"It is now down to 23 millimeters," said Kayla. "They said that it had shrunk by one-third. That's the first good news we've had."

She explained the tumor is a Stage 2, slow-growing benign astrocytoma tumor. It is now in a progressive stage.

"The prognosis isn't good," she added. "The tumor has to go away. He'll fight it his entire life. If it goes away, they said it will keep coming back.

"We are just waiting to see if the radiation has stopped the growth of the tumor. There is nothing else we can do. They won't give him any more radiation, it's too dangerous for his brain."

Austin is also taking medications.

"He'll be continuing taking the chemo pills," said Kayla. "And he is on medications to stop the convulsions. They want to try and keep a seizure from happening.

"The worst-case scenario is they could remove a bit of the front temporal lobe. We hope they won't have to do that."

Kayla explained the family does have insurance but they are not sure if it will cover the cost of the Lifeflight from Bemidji to Minneapolis.

"People say that could cost $50,000-$80,000," she said. "But I'm so grateful for the Ronald McDonald House, where I stayed when Austin was in Children's Hospital. They are so nice there."

As she looks back on the turmoil in their lives the past eight months, Kayla says, "We care about all of our kids. We want to keep Austin as healthy as possible and keep the girls somewhat in the loop.

"We are preparing for the inevitable in the future, and we are wondering how bad it is going to get. Austin has had severe behavior issues, where he got into things at home that he had never gotten into before, and did things that children don't normally do."

To help the family with their expenses, a benefit will be held on Thursday, December 10, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Holy Angels Catholic Church, 60 Hartman Drive, Moose Lake. The benefit is sponsored by the Strengthening Our Christian Community (SOCC) group.

A spaghetti dinner will be served for $10 for adults and $5 for children age 12 and under.

A silent auction will also be held. The winning bidders do not need to be present to claim their items.


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