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Georgia brothers recovering after both treated for rare brain tumors

'Extremely rare' tumor detected in both, treated at Wolfson Children's Hospital

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two young brothers with two recent brain tumor diagnoses received two different types of treatment.

Those boys from Adel, Georgia, are doing well thanks to help they've gotten from Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville.

These diagnoses came within a few weeks of each other. Not only is this type of tumor rare, it's even more unusual that it happened to two brothers. One boy had the tumor removed entirely, the other had partial surgery and underwent proton therapy.

The Eunice brothers, Aaron, 10, and Andrew, 9, were back at Wolfson Children's Hospital.

It's hard to believe these happy, active little boys were diagnosed with brain tumors less than six months ago. Aaron's came first, in late December. 

"From Wolfson, we were able to get a diagnosis and see how to fix the problem and it was diagnosed as craniopharyngioma," said mother Katie.

That alone was scary. Then the unthinkable happened.

"Andrew was diagnosed three weeks after Aaron," Katie said.

Andrew had the same type of tumor, something even their neurosurgeon almost never sees.

"We've seen many tumors of their kind in different patients, but not in brothers," said Dr. Philipp Aldana, pediatric neurosurgeon. “It’s extremely rare.”

Aldana says there are a couple ways to fight this condition.  In Andrew's case, Aldana fully removed the tumor by pulling it through his nasal cavity, allowing him to avoid open brain surgery.

Aaron's tumor was partially removed through surgery, the rest of his treatment was through proton radiation therapy at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute.  He got to wear a cool mask, and the electrically charged particles closely attacked the tumor, with little or no damage to healthy tissue.

 After completing treatment, the boys are feeling great. And through the motto “God’s got this,” first said by Aaron, the boys are confident they can handle anything.

Aaron and Andrew's doctor said he's looking into the possibility of doing some tests to learn more about why this happened to the brothers. He want to discover if there is some genetic explanation. The boys will also have to have many more follow up visits in the months and years to come, but the family is hopeful this battle is behind them.

To learn more about proton therapy, visit Wolfson Children’s Hospital’s website and the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute website.

About the Author:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.