Facing devastating diagnosis, Georgia boy's family finds hope

- Hagan Hussey knows this drill at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite.

Every eight weeks, Hagan and his mother Anna get up before dawn and make their way to the hospital's radiology department for another MRI.

"He's comfortable with the process," Anna Hussey says. "It's just a part of, 'It's MRI day, buddy! Time to get your pictures!'"

Because Hagan, who is now 7, has brain cancer.

"It's just one of those things; it's a complete anomaly," his mother says. "It's like hitting the terrible lottery."

Still, the Husseys feel blessed, for this little man who is a big brother, and an old soul.

"Like, he loves to golf," Anna says. "It's like an 80-year old inside a 7-year old's body."

And Hagan has had to grow up quickly.  

At 2, he started having a hard time walking straight.

"We knew something was off," his mom remembers. "He kept losing his balance."

The pediatrician thought it the problem was Hagan's ear tubes.  

But when the went to the ear, nose and throat doctor, he found the tubes clear.

Then he saw something troubling.

"He noticed Hagan was kind of tilting his head back, and he'd seen one other child do this one other time," Anna Hussey says.  "And, he said, 'I want you to go to the hospital right now and get a CT scan.'"

So, they drove straight to Children's Healthcare.

They'd be there for the next 45 days.

"And I remember the ER doctor coming in after the CT scan, and my sister and mother had met me down there," Hussey says.  "He asked them to step out of the room, and he said, "I need to talk to you, and I need you to listen to what I'm going to say."

Hagan's brain images revealed a baseball-size tumor near his brainstem, in a critical area that controls both his movement, and his speech.

"It was embedded in the cranial nerves on his lower right side," Hussey says. "That's why the doctor, the neurosurgeon, told us. 'I'm going to get as much as I can, safely.'"

Hagan has pushed through three brain surgeries, all kinds of treatments.  

"He's relapsed twice, and that's hard as well," Anna Hussey says.  "But, he keeps getting through it, and fighting."

And, the treatments keep getting better.  

Two of the therapies that seem to be holding Hagan's brain tumor at bay now were not available just five years ago, when he was diagnosed with a malignant growth.

So the Husseys push on.

"One thing we really try to is keep Hagan's life as normal as possible," his mother says. "He loves his elementary school, his teachers. He's going into first grade."

Hagan has reached the five-year mark, a huge milestone for his type of tumor.

"I get stopped all the time," Anna Hussey says.  "People ask, "This is Hagan?  He's had his third brain surgery?'"

The Husseys don't know what the future holds.

"We've lost a lot of friends along this journey, and I am not prepared to lose Hagan" his mom says.  "So, it's like, 'Okay we fight on!  And we just do what doctors tell us to do."

Anna Hussey says they're grateful for every day they have with Hagan.

"I have my faith, I stay positive," Anna Hussey says.  "You know, I have so much hope."

You can follow Hagan Hussey's story on a Facebook page his grandfather created for him here.

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