“It was pretty sizable,” 6-year-old Oklahoma boy battling rare brain cancer

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Building paper airplanes, and playing with magnets; it's an afternoon of fun and laughter at Science Museum Oklahoma for 6-year-old Steven Cornelius and his family.

One game tests Steven's balance and it was just a few months ago that Steven's lack of balance indicated something was really wrong with his health.  He was also constantly nauseous.

"Steven would wake up in the morning, and he'd get sick and we'd stay home from school and take care of him," explained his mother, Toni Cornelius.

An MRI gave Toni a clear but devastating medical diagnosis:  medulloblastoma.   It's a rare and dangerous type of brain cancer.

"They said he has a mass on his brain.  I remember stopping, I froze, and I said, 'What?'" Toni said.

"It was pretty sizable. There's a small space between the brain stem and the back of the brain, and it filled that space entirely," Dr. Abhi Bavle explains.

Bavle is a pediatric oncologist at Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer.  He explains that fighting this type of cancer, which often tries to return, takes every medical weapon they have including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

In Steven's case, his golf ball-sized tumor at the base of the brain was pushing on some key nerves, including the one controlling his ability to swallow.   Even after a very skillful surgery that removed the tumor in its entirety, it took months of healing before Steven was able to swallow and eat again.

"The day he passed his swallow study, I found him in his room with five bags of Lays.  Or was it Doritos?  All I know is he had five bags of chips is what he started off with," Dr. Bavle said.

Steven's mom, Toni, shows off a chain of beads about 15 feet long.  She puts a bead on the chain for each treatment Steven receives, and each milestone he's passed. It's a visual representation of all he's been through.

She says the chain also represents the hard work and hope her family has received at Jimmy Everest.

She knows when his treatments finally end, some things in his life will be restricted.

"He can`t play any sports with balls flying at his head, which rules out everything, which is OK with me" she says with a laugh.

This curious, loving kid is just happy to catch up on the amazing world around him today at the Science Museum.

He is so happy to be on his feet, playing again.

"We just want him to live a long, happy life," says Dr. Bavle.

If you'd like to help a child with cancer, consider donating to JECFriends.org.

'Kids with Courage' is sponsored by the Jimmy Everest Center. 

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