Hudson Brown, 5, arrives at the Beaumont Proton Therapy Center in a yellow Challenger, accompanied by Bumblebee — his favorite Transformer — and his family April 13.

Hudson Brown, 5, arrives at the Beaumont Proton Therapy Center in a yellow Challenger, accompanied by Bumblebee — his favorite Transformer — and his family April 13.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Young cancer patient celebrates end-of-treatment in style

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published April 16, 2018

 Hudson Brown, 5, of Grosse Pointe Farms, rings the end-of treatment bell with his mom, Megan Brown, at the Beaumont Proton Therapy Center April 13. His father, Patrick Brown, and sisters Cecilia, 2, and Emmy, 7, watch from behind.

Hudson Brown, 5, of Grosse Pointe Farms, rings the end-of treatment bell with his mom, Megan Brown, at the Beaumont Proton Therapy Center April 13. His father, Patrick Brown, and sisters Cecilia, 2, and Emmy, 7, watch from behind.

Photo by Donna Agusti

ROYAL OAK — On April 13, the day after 5-year-old Hudson Brown’s last proton therapy treatment targeting a large tumor near the back of his brain, the community rallied to make the day memorable.

Hudson, a Transformers lover, arrived at the Beaumont Proton Therapy Center in a yellow Dodge Challenger with his favorite transformer — Bumblebee — in a procession of 25 Chevrolet Camaros, led by a Michigan State Police escort.

Friends, family and hospital staff gathered to meet Hudson and witness him ring the center’s end-of-treatment bell, as well as watch a video message from Transformers actor Mark Wahlberg encouraging Hudson to stay strong and expressing his thoughts and prayers.

Patrick Brown, Hudson’s father, said Hudson suffered from coughing fits and increasing head pain, so the family took him to the emergency room at St. John Hospital & Medical Center in Detroit Jan. 22.

“As soon as they went in, they noticed something in the way his eyes were tracking, and they did a CAT scan and, within an hour or two, they told us he has a mass on the brain,” Patrick said.

Hudson underwent surgery on the baseball-sized brain tumor that evening. Patrick described the approximately six-hour-long surgery as “terrifying” and “intense.”

Megan Brown, Hudson’s mother, said Hudson was diagnosed with medulloblastoma and that the medical professionals she spoke to recommended that he undergo proton therapy at the new Proton Therapy Center.

She said she was thankful that the family could commute to and from treatment from their Grosse Pointe Farms home.

While undergoing six weeks of outpatient therapy, Hudson bonded with therapy dog Maddie, an 8-year-old bichon frise-poodle mix. Carla Grava, Maddie’s handler, said Maddie visited Hudson on day one and kept him company during all of his remaining 29 treatments.

“Maddie was a constant for him,” Grava said. “He had different doctors and nurses from time to time, but Maddie was a constant.”

She said Hudson enjoyed walking Maddie through the hospital, and Maddie was always waiting calmly in bed with him when he woke up from general anesthesia after treatment.

Megan said the family had been looking forward to the April 13 celebration since before the proton therapy treatment started. She said she had been planning to rent a yellow Camaro, the vehicle that Bumblebee transforms into in the movies, but then the community support snowballed.

Neighbors lined up to see the family off from their home, and 400 students at both Hudson’s preschool and future elementary school stood outside holding signs for the 5-year-old as the caravan drove by, Megan said. Motor City Camaro Club provided the Camaros.

Both she and Patrick are elementary school teachers for the Grosse Pointe Public School System.

“He is the sweetest little boy,” said Sylvia Ross-Schultz, Hudson’s grandmother. “It’s been hard, but we are excited today.”

She and Hudson’s grandfather, Tom Schultz, both became emotional watching Wahlberg’s video message, and Schultz described his feelings as being “overwhelmed.”

Afterward, Hudson unwrapped a variety of Lego packs — one of his favorite toys — from hospital staff, and Wahlberg provided a catered hamburger lunch from his restaurant, Wahlburgers.

Many family members and friends sported blue T-shirts with Hudson’s photo on the front and the #HudsyStrong tagline on the back. Hudson’s sisters, 7-year-old Emmy and 2-year-old Cecilia, also celebrated with their brother.

Craig Stevens, who oversees radiation and oncology at Beaumont, explained that protons are very precise, and the machine that Beaumont uses combines three types of imaging to pinpoint the exact treatment area — the first to do so in North America.

“The radiation goes in a spot — unlike X-rays that can go all the way through — and stops, which allows you to spare normal healthy cells,” he said. “(Proton therapy) has way less side effects, both short term and long term, than (cancer patients) would have otherwise.”

The next step for the Brown family is a four-week break from treatment.

Then, Patrick said, Hudson would begin chemotherapy at St. John Hospital & Medical Center.

The family and doctors are optimistic that the proton and chemotherapies will work.