Home » Relationship forged in hospital goes the extra mile
June 30, 2008 – Texas Children’s Hospital
During eight years of treatment for a rare blood condition, Brent Adams had little hope of walking or speaking—let alone taking 50-mile bike rides and becoming an Eagle Scout.
Now, at age 16, Brent is disease free. He enjoys cycling and playing the piano, and he will complete his Eagle Award project within a year. To qualify for a bicycling merit badge, Brent took one of his biggest fans, Dr. Ken McClain, on a 50-mile bike ride around Houston.
“Brent’s spirit is just fabulous,” said McClain, a hematologist/oncologist at Texas Children’s Cancer Center who treated Brent from 1993 through 2001. “He has an amazing sense of humor; he’s like a stand-up comic.”
When Brent was 17 months old, he was diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis, a disorder that can cause damage to skin, bones and other organs.
“For about four months, Brent had a waxy scalp rash that wouldn’t go away, no matter what we did,” said Brent’s mother, Barbara. “Then his left eye started looking droopy and bulging.”
Tests showed Brent had a hole in his brow bone and a tumor behind his eye. His pediatrician recognized it as histiocytosis, and the family was seen at Texas Children’s Hospital within days.
But after a year of chemotherapy, the disease had spread to other bones in Brent’s face and the ventricles of his brain. His ability to write, walk, balance and speak was affected.
“At the time Brent’s brain involvement was diagnosed, the outlook wasn’t very good,” Barbara said. “Kids generally lose motor function, have strokes, or die when that happens.”
Then McClain introduced cytosine arabinoside, a chemotherapy drug, that penetrated the central nervous system and stopped many of the underlying problems. Fortunately, Brent’s brain was young enough to repair itself and his condition stabilized. He has been healthy for seven years.
During Brent’s time at Texas Children’s, he and McClain became good friends.
“Brent was remarkable,” McClain said. “He is a brave kid, and I was very amazed.”
For his part, Brent was pleased to spend some time with one of his heroes.
“It was cool getting to take such a long bike ride with Dr. McClain,” Brent said. “Thanks to him, I’ve been healthy for a long time.”