Benefit for Durham teen battling cancer

Chico, Calif. -- A Durham student's recent brain tumor diagnosis brings together his local community Friday night.

Posted: Jan. 12, 2018 11:42 PM
Updated: Jan. 13, 2018 1:05 PM

Chico, Calif. -- A Durham student's recent brain tumor diagnosis brings together his local community Friday night.

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17-year-old Brandon Gasper was recently diagnosed with stage one pilocytic astrocytoma.


He was getting tested last summer for growth hormones when some of the tests revealed Brandon had a brain tumor.

"It sits on his optic chiasm which is the nerve that controls your eyes. It also displaces his pitutary gland," said Kendra Moss, Brandon's mother.

Without assistance, Brandon would have a hard time growing and wouldn't start puberty.

"When I was reading the report to read there was a mass, I was in shock, disbelief," said Moss.

From there, Brandon underwent brain surgery, but his tumor was unable to be removed because of the fragile position it is in.

"We started seeing pediatric neuro-oncology, they had a tumor board and they had a plan for him to start chemotherapy," said Moss.

Brandon's family takes him to UCSF for treatment.

"We have a lot of co-pays right now, TRICARE, military insurance for him," said Moss.

But despite this difficult diagnosis, Brandon's family and friends choose to focus on the positive by hosting "Hawaii Strong." The lasagna-feed benefit at Tackle Box Deli in Chico helped raise money for Brandon's treatment.

Brandon grew up in Hawaii while his parents were stationed at the United States Marine Corps Base.

"Everywhere he goes he always has a smile on his face, he's always cracking jokes," said Hunter Polk, a friend of Brandon's. 

"It's huge to have that backbone not just from Durham, but from Chico to support Brandon through these tough times," said Shane Scott, a friend of Brandon's. 

Brandon is a member of the Durham High Future Farmers of America, also known as the FFA chapter.

"What he found in it was comradery, a brotherhood. All of his friends became his siblings and rallied behind him in his hardest time," said Emmalea Wilkinson, Brandon's FAA advisor. 

FAA inspires young people to get into the agricultural lifestyle and teaches them about good values.

"It makes rough days a lot easier. Knowing I have the community behind me is really cool," said Brandon.

If you would like to help out Brandon's treatment expenses, you can do so by clicking here.

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