Former K-M star fighting for his life with cancer diagnosis
Twenty-one-year-old Braxton Raymond is the picture of courage.
"He told me that somewhere down the line, something was going to happen to someone in our family," Braxton’s mother Cyndi Raymond said. "He said he was glad it was he who drew the short straw, because he can handle it."
What the former Kasson-Mantorville basketball star is being asked to handle is as frightening a proposition as there is.
Braxton was recently diagnosed with a malignant and inoperable brain tumor.
Cyndi said the hope is to keep him alive for another two to five years, with the possibility that science will have advanced enough by then that they can treat his tumor in a complete way.
"I just want him to get a chance to fight it," Cyndi said. "If he gets that shot, he’ll beat it. Braxton has never backed down from anything."
Braxton, who attended Williston (N.D.) State this past year where he played basketball for the Division I junior college, spent the bulk of the summer believing he had multiple sclerosis. His symptoms began in May, with numbness in his left hand and foot. Doctors at first believed that might be the result of a tick bite.
But as the symptoms worsened, they turned to multiple sclerosis as his likely condition. He was tested for that through the months of June and July in Mankato, where his family doctor resides.
It wasn’t until things really spiraled, with his speech now greatly affected, as well as his balance and stamina, that he went to the emergency room. That happened the beginning of August. A biopsy at Mayo Clinic in Rochester came next, followed by the devastating news of the brain tumor.
"We kind of knew (it was bad)," said Kelly Raymond, his father.
Despite his physical decline and uncertain future, Braxton has continued to battle. He began radiation treatments a week ago, and he starts a two-month stretch of chemotherapy today.
His parents have been amazed by his spirit and fortitude.
"His sister (Tailor Raymond) is getting married in July, and Braxton said he’s going to be there for the wedding," Kelly said. "He’s an inspiration in how he’s handling this. He still has a heck of a sense of humor."
Kelly isn’t completely shocked by the fight that’s remained in Braxton. As his former basketball coach at Kasson-Mantorville, this isn’t the first time he’d witnessed his son’s unyielding ways.
"Braxton is the toughest kid I coached in my 47 years," Kelly said. "He has a little bit of an edge to him and this is competition for him right now. He’s not letting cancer beat him."
Braxton is the all-time leading scorer for the K-M boys basketball program, and he was an all-state selection as a senior.
Braxton’s sister Tailor has also been struck by his refusal to feel sorry for himself and willingness to keep putting others first.
"We’ll come in the door and right away he’ll say, ‘How are you guys doing,’" Tailor said. "He knows how strong he is and he keeps talking so positively. Really, he wants to get back on the court again. The other day he went on the court with his walker. He took one shot. And he made it."
That fight and sense of humor continues to shine through, every step of the way.
Even this week, Cyndi was on the phone with a reporter, and at the end of the interview, she was asked if there was anything else to be revealed.
So she posed that question to Braxton, who was with her in the Raymond house. Braxton had a response.
"Tell him I’m going to beat this," he said.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help the Raymond family as they deal with the expenses of Braxton Raymond's cancer treatments. Go to https://www.gofundme.com/5xpx3rk for his GoFundMe page. His Caring Bridge site is https://www.caringbridge.org/public/braxtonraymond23 .