From our very first breaths, Mikey was my teammate and taught me we’re better off working together

I guess it all starts with this picture, two babies lying together. What you can’t see is that we are lying on a small scale, born so tiny and premature that when our weights were added together, we totaled all of 7.5 pounds. From our very first breaths, Mikey was my teammate and taught me…

Research Shows Families Want Option to Donate Post-mortem Tissue

Families who lose a child to brain cancer, want doctors to give them the option to donate their child’s tissue.
Donating tissue not only contributes to research for a cure, but donating helps families grieve and see something good come from their tragic loss.

These conclusions come after surveying more than 100 families whose children died of brain cancer as detailed in an American Society of Clinical Oncology Journal of Clinical Oncology article. Gift from a Child founders Al and Patti Gustafson co-authored the article, along with clinicians and researchers from seven other institutions.

The Story of Swifty

This story begins in the wildly inventive, clever, gentle, tumor-ridden brain of a fourteen-year-old boy from Woodridge, Illinois. On a September afternoon in 2012, Michael Gustafson woke up from a nap with an idea. He was going to donate his body to science “so that no other child would have to go through” what he…

Beads of Courage

Today is Mardi Gras… images of parades, King Cakes, wild parties and those ubiquitous beads are all around. For me, the Mardi Gras beads bring to mind another set of beads… Beads of Courage.  Until Mikey got sick, I had no idea Beads of Courage existed. But they do. And they mean so much to…

Our Class of 2020

In the past, May always meant tulips, breaking out the lawn furniture and graduations. Covid-19 hasn’t stopped the tulips or kept us from sitting outside (albeit 6 feet apart), but for the Class of 2020 graduations have been cancelled or hopefully, only postponed. In the meantime, there is a lot of sadness, disappointment and uncertainty…

Light That Seeps Through a Broken Heart

I can’t tell you how often people are dumbfounded on how I can so enjoy working with a pediatric brain cancer foundation, especially one focused on post-mortem tissue donation. I guess they imagine the sadness and loss that these families endure and assume it permeates their lives and my work. That couldn’t be further from…

Growing During Isolation – And the smell of fresh baked bread!

Fear, uncertainty, disruption, crisis these are the words swirling around us these days. It’s hard not give in to despair. I can’t stop this virus, however I can share what I learned while caring for my son, Michael when he was stuck at home sick with cancer.

Love and Comfort in the Final Days

If I had a choice, I would be an “expert” on how the brain works, American history or songs from the 70’s. Unfortunately, I have just a little knowledge of those interesting topics. I do however have experience in losing a child to cancer, not a topic anyone would ever sign up to learn about….

Dear Silas

Dear Silas, I want you to know your very last wish is happening right now. There is a team of researchers, doctors, and specialists who have assembled. They are working to make a difference in the world of brain cancer. I don’t think any of us could have imagined the impact your donation will have….

Saying Goodbye to Normal

by Rachael Kittleson Kelsey’s Mom As normal goes, we were a normal family…two daughters, two dogs, a neighborhood full of kids, family dinners, carpools, homework, and messy rooms. Our oldest daughter Kelsey was a great kid. At 14, she was a high honors student, athlete, musician, and volunteer who loved Journey and Queen, The…