Brennan Feidler had no idea why his head hurt so badly, he just knew it was unlike any pain he had experienced in his young life. It was late July of this year, and the San Marino High School senior-to-be had just returned from a family vacation to Montana when he awoke one morning with a terrible headache.
The recent change in altitude and airline travel were quickly dismissed as possible causes when home medications failed to provide any relief. It quickly became apparent that this was not the type of headache that has you reaching for the ibuprofen, rather one that sends you to the emergency room.
Little did Brennan and his family know, but a guardian angel of sorts was waiting for them in the emergency room at Huntington Hospital.
“The nurse who was treating Brennan realized that this was no ordinary headache,” said Rob Feidler, Brennan’s father. “She said ‘you need to get an appointment with my dad…today.’”
Her father just happens to be Dr. Igor Fineman, a Pasadena neurosurgeon, who saw Brennan the next day. Within a couple hours, Fineman informed the Feidler family that Brenan had a brain tumor, the size of two golf balls.
“Glioblastoma,” Rob Feidler said recently, sounding way too familiar with a word he obviously never wanted to understand.
With Dr. Fineman set to depart on an extended vacation, Dr. Gabriel Zada of the USC Keck School of Medicine performed the surgery and, well, so far so good. Brennan has dodged chemotherapy, undergoes routine immunotherapy, and doctors have “a great outlook” for his prognosis.
There are any number of sayings to communicate the notion that “you know who your friends are when times are tough” and Brennan soon realized that his many years of being a good one was coming back to him in spades. Aside from the affects of the surgery and treatments, Brennan lost his hair during the ordeal, which is traumatic for anyone, let alone a teenager. Didn’t matter.
They showed up in droves at the Feidler home. Concurrently, other family friends launched a meal train to keep the fridge full for Rob and Kym during their time of need while Brennan received treatments,
One day, about twenty of Brennan’s friends showed up to surprise him with a Playstation and a handful of gift cards to purchase other items to help pass the time. Their gestures certainly haven’t gone unnoticed.
“Having my friends around is the best medicine that has helped me through my whole journey,” Brennan told The Tribune. “I wouldn’t even call them friends anymore, because to me they are family. I realized that having them around I can do anything such as beat cancer. I also realized how much they would do for me and how much I would do for them.”
That sense of gratitude apparently runs in the family. Late last month, the Feidlers invited those who have helped them along the often-challenging road to a little get-together that more resembled a full-on block party by the end of the evening.
“These kids and their families and our friends have been so supportive,” Rob Feidler said. “One of our friends who has been so supportive was invited to the party she said ‘we should be having a party for you. I said ‘you already did.’ The old saying of ‘it talks a village’ couldn’t be more appropriate than in our situation.”
Brennan also has a renewed purpose in life.
“My friends mean the world to me,” he said. “I know they got my back and I will always have theirs.”