FEATURE | Posted April 8, 2015

Ready to run

Brain cancer survivor to run Credit Union SACTOWN 10

Timmy Brown © UC Regents
Timmy Brown enjoyed artwork at the UC Davis Children's Hospital playroom during his 2012 treatment.

When Rancho Cordova resident Timmy Brown was 2 ½ years old, his parents, Mark and Maryanne, suspected he had an inner ear infection after he had trouble walking normally. He was treated with heavy antibiotics and improved for a couple of days. But one January morning in 2012, after getting dressed, Timmy was lethargic and nearly non-responsive. His parents raced to the UC Davis pediatric emergency department at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, where doctors ran a number of tests.

Nothing suspicious showed up in Timmy’s bloodwork, so doctors ordered a CT scan and discovered a large mass in his brain.

A couple of hours later, Timmy had emergency surgery to place a drain that helped relieve pressure on his brain and was admitted to UC Davis Children’s Hospital. The next morning, Timmy had a nine-hour tumor removal surgery performed by Marike Zwienenberg, pediatric neurological surgeon at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. He was in the hospital for 13 days.

Brain cancer diagnosis

Zwienenberg diagnosed Timmy with medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer. Timmy was given a 40 percent chance of survival. Despite the odds, Timmy’s positive attitude and upbeat demeanor helped him battle the cancer – and win.

“He was always so active and in such a good mood,” said Zwienenberg. “That boy makes me smile each time I see him.”

One week after leaving the hospital, Timmy returned for another surgery. Doctors placed a broviac port and a ventricular catheter, which directed chemotherapy to his brain. Timmy endured eight months of intensive chemotherapy, staying four to five days in the hospital, followed by 10 days at home.

Timmy Brown playing at park © UC Regents
Timmy Brown, now full of energy, will participate in the UC Davis Children's Hospital Miracle Mile Community Run/Walk on April 12.

“UC Davis Children’s Hospital became our second home,” said Maryanne Brown. “The playroom was a lifesaver. We were there the minute it opened until the minute it closed. I think the playroom activities really helped him do as well as he did.”

Timmy’s attitude remained so upbeat that Zwienenberg said you wouldn’t have known that he was undergoing treatment.

After finishing chemotherapy, Timmy moved on to 30 days of radiation.

“On our second-to-last-day in the hospital, a pet therapy dog came to visit Timmy,” said Maryanne Brown, remembering the black Labrador named Duke. “Timmy hadn’t been able to stand up on his own. He was sitting on the ground, and when the handler left the room with the dog, Timmy just got up and started running after him. He hadn’t even been walking yet, and he started running! It was incredible.”

Beating cancer

Timmy finished treatment on Oct. 19, 2012 and has since been in remission.

Timmy is 5 years old now and will be running the Credit Union SACTOWN10’s UC Davis Children’s Hospital Miracle Mile run on Sunday, April 12.

“We never thought he would be able to do this,” said Maryanne Brown. “The fact that he’s running is amazing.”

Proceeds from the race will benefit UC Davis Children’s Hospital. To register, visit www.sactown10.org.