By ALLISON WOOD | Staff Writer
WADSWORTH â€” Dressed in a black wrestling singlet and headgear, 3-year-old Brody Randolph runs around before his older brothersâ€™ wrestling practice and tries to imitate what the other boys are doing.
â€œHe does his own version,â€ said his father, Bart Randolph, as Brody tries to do a jumping jack. â€œWhen we first gave the singlet to him, he wouldnâ€™t take it off for a week.â€
While he is too young to be a regular participant, he tries to do as much as he can.
After getting to the mat room at Wadsworth High School, he has a â€œmatchâ€ with a 6-year-old boy, who let Brody pin him several times. A few minutes later, Brody runs out to the other mat room to watch one of his brothers before being caught.
Bart, who is the principal of Cloverleaf Local Schoolsâ€™ Westfield Upper Elementary, said he is grateful to see his youngest son â€œwrestlingâ€ and running around two years after undergoing surgery for a rare brain tumor.
â€œIf we wouldnâ€™t have done what we did back then, we wouldnâ€™t be sitting here with a typical child,â€ he said.
Three-year-old Brody Randolph, who underwent brain surgery to remove a tumor in 2006, talks with his father, Bart Randolph (center), and a coach (right) during a youth wrestling club practice last week at Wadsworth High School. (Andrew Dolph | Staff Photographer)
In 2006, Brody was diagnosed with a hypothalamic hamartoma tumor after having frequent gelastic â€œlaughingâ€ seizures and was showing signs of puberty at less than a year old. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that controls emotional responses and hormone regulation.
His mother Becky first learned about the tumor after finding a support group on the Web site www.hhugs.com, which showed a video of a child having the same type of seizures as Brody.
Brody had surgery at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix to remove the tumor in August 2006 and has not had a seizure since, Becky said.
A faint scar under Brodyâ€™s blond hair is now the only visible evidence left from his surgery.
â€œWe asked the doctor if he had any limitations,â€ Bart said. â€œHe said he probably shouldnâ€™t do â€˜Ultimate Fighting.â€™ â€
Despite Brodyâ€™s improved health, Becky and Bart said they frequently are reminded of his illness.
Every month, Brody must go to the doctor to get an injection of Lupron, a drug that suppresses puberty hormones. The needle is several inches long and goes into his thigh, Becky said. After getting the shot, one of the nurses gives Brody candy.
â€œHe has the ladies there convinced heâ€™s the only patient when heâ€™s there,â€ she said.
Brody said his mom told him the shot â€œmakes his brain smart.â€
â€œI donâ€™t like to get the shot,â€ Brody said. â€œBut it helps me get M&Mâ€™s.â€
Although Becky said she doesnâ€™t like seeing him get the shot, they decided against giving Brody a Lupron implant in the skin that would have to be replaced once a year. The FDA recently approved the implant, but the Randolphs did not want to try something new since Brody responds well to the shot.
Brody will have to get the shot until he is about 13 because his tumor activated his puberty glands when he was a baby, Bart said.
Brodyâ€™s doctor, pediatric endocrinologist William Riley at Akron Childrenâ€™s Hospital, is Beckyâ€™s favorite since he was the first to suspect Brodyâ€™s condition and put â€œhypothalamic hamartomaâ€ on his first MRI scan.
She said Riley told her Brody was only the second child he had ever seen with this tumor in his 30-year career.
Bart said he and Becky received quite a shock a few weeks ago while watching the Fox show â€œPrison Break.â€ It showed doctors preparing the character Michael for surgery to remove a hypothalamic hamartoma.
â€œWe jumped out of our skin,â€ Bart said.
While the character on the show is an adult, it showed his head secured into a device that was the same as Brodyâ€™s. Unlike Brody, the character was conscious during the operation and wore headphones so he did not have to hear the sound of the drill going into his brain.
Like many children a few days before Christmas, Brody wondered if Santa Claus was going to give him what he wanted. He already had received a stuffed giraffe and a teddy bear.
â€œI want a squirt gun so I can squirt my mom and dad,â€ said Brody, who also asked for a cell phone and a scooter.
When Bart jokingly suggested Brody was on Santaâ€™s â€œnaughty list,â€ the 3-year-old almost started to cry.
â€œI donâ€™t want to be on the bad list,â€ Brody said.
Bart said Brody is more emotional than his older brothers were at this age and is quick to cry or get angry. He wonders if the tumor permanently affected his personality.
As the baby of the family, Brody is often the center of attention when he is with his parents and brothers, Bart, 17; Brandon, 9, and Brett, 8.
â€œIt was a shock when he went to preschool and learned he wasnâ€™t the boss,â€ Becky said, adding he got into trouble at the beginning of the year because he tackled the other students like he was with his brothers at home.
Despite his worries, Brody ended up on the â€œgood listâ€ after all â€” Santa was unable to find a squirt gun, but he got a Nerf gun, along with a train set and table, Becky said Friday.
Wood may be reached at 330-721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.