Healing for Hendrix: 6-year-old diagnosed with brain tumor

Hendrix is about to start first grade and is looking forward to making new friends, but he’s facing a much bigger challenge than most first graders.
Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - A child facing a potentially life threatening medical condition is news no parents want to hear, but it is now reality for a Coast couple, both police officers, and their 6-year-old son.

Hendrix is about to start first grade and is looking forward to making new friends, but he’s facing a much bigger challenge than most first graders.

“We’ve just been hit hard,” said Amanda Branning, Hendrix’s mother.

Less than two weeks ago while at a party, Amanda and Justin Branning unexpectedly watched their son struggle like they had never seen before.

“In his head he was fine, but his body wouldn’t work,” Amanda said.

A few days later, the Brannings were in Mobile for an MRI.

“It wasn’t even 30 minutes after we did the MRI, doctors were coming in, brought us in another room and said we’re looking at a very bad brain tumor,” Amanda said.

The tumor is in the lower area of Hendrix’s brain.

“It looks to be pushing on the left side growing into the cerebellum. The cerebellum is what controls your fine motor skills like your grabbing and moving,” Amanda said.

Although Hendrix remains upbeat, his father sees a change.

“For a six year old, he walks around with a smile, puts smiles on people faces and that’s all he lives for,” Justin Branning said. “This poor guy is trying to get out, but he’s struggling and trying to play with everybody. He’s trying to play with everybody, still trying to be himself and he’s struggling through it.”

Later this week, Hendrix heads to Birmingham for a biopsy. The results of the procedure will tell the Brannings how severe of a condition their son is facing and will lead to a treatment plan.

“We are going to beat this and he will be known as that survivor,” Amanda said.

Hendrix is one of seven children living with his parents as part of their blended family; he’s the only boy. With an uncertain future, the family is focused on making the most of every moment.

“The smile that he puts on everybody’s faces to give him a longer opportunity to make memories to give these guys that are with him,” Justin said.

Since the diagnosis, the Brannings have learned about so many others facing similar circumstances.

“You have people giving you hope because they were told the same identical stuff that we’ve been getting told so far, and their children are doing well. They were able to get the outcomes we’re hoping and praying for,” Justin said.

Justin and Amanda are both police officers, Justin in Biloxi and Amanda in Long Beach, and both communities are stepping up to support.

“In our jobs you see a lot of bad, but when you have this instance you see how good people are,” Amanda said. “Anybody who can just pray that this thing shrinks, pray for strength for our family, for the doctors and for Hendrix because from what I’ve been told, it’s fixn’ to get rough. We just need all the help we can get.”

The Biloxi Police Department will be hosting a fish fry benefit for Hendrix on Friday. Then on Saturday more than 20 businesses in Long Beach will be donating a portion of proceeds to the Brannings.

You can follow along with Hendrix’s journey and learn more about how you can help on Facebook by searching #healingforhendrix.

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