Praying for Donovan: Local family battling rare type of cancer

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, July 6, 2016

5.	FIGHT FOR HIS LIFE: Donovan is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis after recently being diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma, liver cancer.  Photo submitted

5. FIGHT FOR HIS LIFE: Donovan is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis after recently being diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma, liver cancer.
Photo submitted

Donovan Trudell, 12, of Picayune, is described by family members as a charmer, a jokester, great student and older brother. He loves playing football and basketball.
Currently, the outgoing soon-to-be eighth grader is battling for his life at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
Four weeks ago, Donovan was acting normally, his stepfather, Poplarville police officer Chandler Richardson said.
“He seemed to be more tired than normal, but we figured he was going through a growing spurt,” Chandler said.
It was about that time that Chandler took Donovan to visit his father, Dominique Brown, who is a police officer in Memphis.
The week before last, Donovan noticed a large lump in his abdomen. He took a photograph and sent it to his mother, Brandy Richardson, who is a hospice and travel nurse, Chandler said.
His dad took him to the hospital and after initial x-rays, doctors urged him to take Donovan to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
After a few more tests, doctors diagnosed Donovan with Hepatoblastoma, liver cancer.
Brandy, who was leaving Nebraska and heading to Colorado, got the call from the radiologist at 3 a.m.
“I just said, ‘oh, ok, alright,’’’ she said. “I’m no stranger to cancer, both my parents died from it. It’s just shocking when it’s your 12-year-old son.”
Hepatoblastoma is usually diagnosed in children under 2-years-old, she said. It’s a very rare occurrence in older children.
Donovan’s liver is unsalvageable, Chandler said, and he is currently unable to be placed on a transplant list because the cancer has spread to his lungs. They won’t give a healthy liver to someone so sick, he added.
“If the chemo doesn’t shrink the tumors in his lungs, then that’s it,” his mother said.
On June 27, Donovan received his first chemotherapy treatment, which appears to be working, his mother said. However, it caused one of the tumors to rupture and bleed into his abdomen, which must now be drained, Brandy said.
Donovan will receive chemotherapy treatments for the next 15 weeks. However, doctors won’t know how well the treatments are working until his first lung scan, Brandy said.
Donovan is also enrolled in genome studies to map out his DNA in order to find out why he was stricken with this type of cancer, his mother said.
Both Chandler and Brandy said Donovan was devastated when he heard the news.
“He sleeps all the time and just wants to come home and go to school,” Brandy said.
Because of her job and now Donovan’s illness, Brandy said she hasn’t seen her other children in almost two months. Donovan’s siblings, Edgerrin, Zoe, Iain and Chandler Jr. are all very eager to see their brother, Brandy said.
“It’s difficult, they want to see their brother, but he doesn’t want them to see him like this,” she said. “They worry about him.”
Since the news of Donovan’s diagnosis, community members have begun hosting fundraisers and established a GoFundMe account in Donovan’s name. St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital is covering the costs of Donovan’s treatments, but the family is now down to one income and travel back and forth from Picayune to Memphis.
“The outpouring of love and support is awesome,” she said. “He’s a special kid and has touched the lives of many people.”
Learn more about the GoFundMe account at
On July 23 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., a fundraiser will be held at The Coffee Shop, located at 1030 S. Main St. in Poplarville.
During the event, there will be a bake sale, face painting, an officer dunk tank and a chicken drop, owner Katrina Mizell said. There will also be a raffle, for which tickets will go on sale this Friday. For up-to-date information about the fundraiser follow The Coffee Shop on Facebook.
An account has been established in Donovan’s name at the First National Bank, Brandy said. At the end of this month, there are plans for a blood drive and a pancake breakfast.
Chandler said he fears the worst for his stepson.
“We have a strong faith in Jesus,” he said. “We just pray and put our faith in the Lord that it all works out ok.”
Brandy said she is hoping for a few good weeks and hopes to take her son to Scotland to visit some of her family members, if he is well enough.
“His prognosis doesn’t look good,” she said. “And I’m more about quality of life over quantity of life at this point.”

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