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Centre grad hopes for recovery from melanoma

Staff writer

Brandon Gillett, a Centre High School graduate and a son of Bob and Debbie Gillett of Marion, is fighting for his life. After a bout with melanoma as a teenager, he faces the same enemy 25 years later.

Brandon was a 14-year-old freshman when he had a mole removed from his lower back and was diagnosed with melanoma. After deep back surgery, his life returned to normal. He received a college degree in construction science from Kansas State University and took a job in Dallas.

He married his wife, Kari, four years ago. They have a 2-year-old son and a 2-week-old daughter.

Brandon’s parents were visiting the family during Easter when the second bombshell hit. He started having back trouble and coughing. A few days later, he was told he had cancer. Doctors did surgery to remove one and a half ribs and part of a lung. Debbie said they were confident they got it all.

Three weeks later, after a DNA analysis, Brandon was told he had nerve sheath sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. He ended up going to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where he was diagnosed with melanoma.

Debbie said he is taking two relatively new chemotherapy pills and is starting to feel better.

“Food is starting to taste good again,” she said. “Hopefully, the chemo is working.”

A fundraising golf tournament for Brandon, organized by several high school friends, was Saturday at the Herington Golf Course. Debbie said it brought out a crowd of people. More than 75 businesses in the region made donations. Some people got raffle tickets and purchased T-shirts. Others provided food and photography. Brandon and his family appeared at the event.

“People have been so good,” Debbie said. “I didn’t know people could be so generous. And the best part of all this was all the prayers that have been said on Brandon’s behalf.”

Brandon’s future is uncertain. The family knows he could face more surgery, Debbie said, but he knows he has a lot of support.

Last modified Aug. 6, 2014

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