Addyson Kaczmarski is a cheerful, cheerful 15-year-old, which you would expect if your father is a powerlifting coach and your mother teaches physical education.
That changed over the summer. Addy began experiencing headaches in mid-July, which the family believed to be migraines, but found that over-the-counter medications did not bring relief. The pain of the headache worsened every day. On her second trip to the emergency room at Amery Medical Center, the doctor ordered an MRI, where a mass was found on the right side of her brain. That resulted in a trip to Minneapolis Children’s Hospital. The pressure of the tumor mass was the cause of the headache.
Within a week, the operation was performed to remove as much of the mass as possible and develop a plan of action. The diagnosis was a brain tumor.
The New Richmond High School sophomore has learned everything she needs to know about brain tumors. Her best friend’s younger brother, 10-year-old Nolan Milton, is also battling a brain tumor.
Addy is the daughter of Brian and Renee Kaczmarski. She is the youngest of the Kaczmarski’s four children, with older siblings Hallie, Blake, and Lexi. Addy recently completed 30 days of proton radiation treatment. She will undergo four weeks of healing before having a post-treatment scan scheduled for Nov. 29 at Children’s in Minneapolis. Brian said that regardless of the news on the 29th, Addy will undergo chemotherapy as the next step in the process.
“They want to be aggressive about this,” Brian said, saying the doctors are studying two studies for her that would involve chemotherapy in pill form.
The radiation was started after Addy had surgery. Brian said the doctors think they’ve removed 80 percent of the tumor, which is a high percentage. That makes them hopeful that the course of action will work to defeat the rest of the tumor.
Addy joins the New Richmond High School powerlifting team. Brian spoke like a proud father when he described his daughter.
“She’s definitely our social butterfly,” he said. “She’s extroverted, extroverted. She can handle the jocks, the farm kids, it doesn’t matter which group. Her teachers say she brings light into the room.”
Benefits for Addy have been held at the Star Prairie Sports Bar and the 45th Parallel Events Center. Anyone interested in helping the Kaczmarskis with the financial burden of this challenge, or continuing education about cancer issues, can check out the “Addy’s Army” page on Facebook. There you will find links to her carebridge.org and gofundme pages.
The Kaczmarskis said they were grateful for their jobs and that the New Richmond community has been so gracious during this struggle that they could focus all their energies on Addy and her struggle.
“We’ve had incredible support,” Brian said.
Although the story revolves around Addy, her parents also wanted people to think about the many people battling cancer.
“The system is so hopelessly underfunded. There should never be a priority list for who gets treatment,” Brian said. “We’ve had three different care teams tell us the same thing; the lab is where the battle against cancer will be won. We need more labs, more people in white coats, more people finding answers, and there has to be a sense of urgency for this to happen. The answer is there, we need to build the capacity to find it.”