Survivor Stories: From Lymphoma Survivor to HEADstrong Intern, Meet Brandon Krausse.

HEADstrong HEADlines

By: Jennifer Hoffman

Lacrosse has been a part of Brandon Krausse’s life ever since he can remember.

As a little kid he would go to his local lacrosse shop and pick up different kinds of equipment, but the piece that always caught his eye were lime green shoelaces. “I always bought them because I liked the color, it was so cool and stood out on the field.” remarked Brandon.

Little did he know that just a few years later, those lime green shoelaces weren’t just any old shoe laces, but they represented the HEADstrong Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving lives affected by cancer. A mission that would hit close to home for Brandon, he just didn’t know it yet.

As a 14 year old boy looking forward to finishing his freshman year at Sun Valley High School in Aston, PA, Brandon was worried about his summer lacrosse camp and spending weekends down the shore.

All of that came to a halt on May 23, 2011 when he found a lump on the side of his neck. Scared and confused, Brandon turned to his family for help. “My mom called an ENT specialist at Brinton Lake Medical Center. I went there for an appointment and was referred to CHOP and that’s when I found out it wasn’t just a lump but it was Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was 14 years old and diagnosed with cancer” said Brandon.

Now, instead of getting ready for lacrosse camp and enjoying summer with his friends, Brandon traded in his lacrosse jersey for a hospital gown and geared up for one of the toughest opponents of his life; cancer.

Brandon wasn’t alone in the fight, his family rallied around him and supported him every step of the way. His older brother was away at college so his mom became a super mom and supported him in every way possible.

Brandon’s ties with HEADstrong became even tighter when he went to his first doctor’s appointment, and you guessed it, all because of the lime green shoelaces.

“When I got to the appointment, Dr.Perloff noticed my shoe laces. He knew about HEADstrong. The doctor who diagnosed me actually diagnosed Nick Colleluori (HEADstrong’s Founder) too. I had been buying HEADstrong gear for years” stated Brandon.

In that moment, everything came full circle. The lime green shoelaces, being diagnosed by the exact same doctor who diagnosed HEADstrong’s founder Nick Colleluori just years earlier, to battling similar forms of cancer. It was then that Brandon realized HEADstrong was more than just lacrosse gear, but a way for people and lacrosse players alike to support the mission of the organization and help those affected by cancer both on and off the lacrosse field.

Over the summer Krausse underwent surgery to remove the benign tumor so his life could return to some kind of normalcy.

In the fall of 2011, Brandon returned to Sun Valley High to start his sophomore year cancer free. But he would spend more time at the doctors’ office, than on the lacrosse field. “I had follow up doctors’ appointments every week for six months to make sure the cancer didn’t come back so I missed a lot of school because of it. It was tough not being able to play lacrosse.”

Fast forward 11 months later and Brandon was in an all too familiar spot again, the cancer returned and this time it wasn’t benign. Almost a year to the date of first being diagnosed, Brandon was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma again and would need to start chemotherapy.

From June to August of 2012 Brandon underwent three extensive rounds of chemotherapy at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Every Monday Brandon and his mom would go to CHOP where his first visit would be a hydration test to fill his body with fluids. The second Monday would be an all-day process of chemotherapy, “The first day of chemo was really hard, I had a 20 minute ride home and I remember being so sick. I was sick for days. But I knew I could get through it” said Brandon.

Despite it being difficult, Brandon knew this was an opponent that if he fought hard enough he could beat. As the rounds of chemo went on, they got a little easier each time. The third Monday consisted of more hydration testing to make sure his body was responding to the chemo. The fourth Monday was a blood test to make sure the chemo wasn’t throwing off his blood cell count.

Being 15 years old and on a pediatric oncology unit was a different experience and a tough one at that. “It was hard being around so many little kids, 4 and 5 year olds who have no idea what’s going on. They couldn’t comprehend what was happening to them. You never knew who in the waiting room was going to make it or not” remarked Brandon.

After three rounds of chemo and a second surgery Brandon was officially in remission of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and could finally put his life back together and finish high school.

Now, Brandon is heading into his senior year at Rosemont College and is looking to be a 4 year starter on the lacrosse team.

Krausse was not recruited to play lacrosse instead he turned heads as a walk – on his freshman year and has had a spot on the team ever since. Next season he has an opportunity to break the scoring record as an attacker, and although cancer took a toll on his body he doesn’t let it get him down. “Not everyone has the luxury to play college sports. I feel pretty lucky being able to do that and be a cancer survivor” remarked Brandon.

Brandon is also an intern at HEADstrong, where he is a jack of all trades as he likes to say. Lending a helping hand wherever necessary. Whether it’s sorting quickbooks, packaging inventory orders in the warehouse or helping out at the annual Golf Outing, Krausse is always there. Isn’t it funny how those lime green shoelaces turned out to be so much more?

“HEADstrong is a great place, I like everyone here. They are all super welcoming” said Brandon.

There are always two ways to look at a situation, positively or negatively. Brandon chose to look at his life after cancer in a different light. “It did a lot of positive things for me, I learned that there’s more to life.”

Staying positive against his toughest opponent of his life was something Brandon knew he had to do. Being a natural born athlete, it was a way of life. It was the key to his game against cancer. “You can either have a good day or a bad day, it just depends on how you wake up.”