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By November 14, 2023November 21st, 2023No Comments

AT FIRST MEETING, by all accounts, Garren appears to be like any other 19-year-old. He works hard at his job at a local credit union and is taking college classes to prepare for his future. His friendly, easy-going nature and big smile would give you no indication that he has been through trials most people could not imagine. Garren, by all measures, is a survivor.

At age 15, Garren was a bystander in an accident that caused him to suffer severe burns over his legs and left arm. Garren endured eight weeks of wound care and a skin graft surgery. He handled all of this with bravery and strength. Serious burns come with many extenuating symptoms, so in 2021, when Garren began having frequent headaches, nausea, and double vision, he and his family assumed it had something to do with the trauma he had been through. The headaches persisted, and the double vision became a problem. Garren’s parents made an appointment with his eye doctor. After a thorough exam, he and his family were directed to visit the emergency room. 

A CT scan would show that Garren had a tumor in his brain. He was flown to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth and underwent brain surgery to biopsy the ping-pong-ball-sized tumor located near his pineal gland and tackle the severe hydrocephalus it had caused. The tumor was cancerous. Pineal Germinoma was the diagnosis. Garren endured multiple lumbar punctures and 4-hour MRIs. When he was released from the hospital, the real battle began. Under the care of the neuro-oncology team at Cooks, he powered through four grueling rounds of chemotherapy. In January, more tests followed, and he embarked on a radiation journey at the Texas Center for Proton Therapy in Irving. Twenty-five treatments, five days a week, over five weeks, with only weekend trips to Amarillo to be with his family. 

Garren and his family are very close. He is the oldest child of his parents, Rachael and Jonathan, and brother to his younger siblings, Brecken, Paxten, Addie, and Evy. The treatments were challenging for all of them. He credits his family with supporting him during that time in his life. Garren smiles when he remembers a trip he and his family took when his treatment ended. They spent a week in Florida together, hanging out and visiting Disney World. That is his favorite memory, he says. His family sticks together and shows up for each other. That was evident when they came to the HCHF Our Colors Run Together 5K this year to walk in Garren’s honor.

Garren has had a tough road, but he’s met every challenge head-on.

He has leaned on his sense of humor, family, and friends, and unwavering faith in Christ to give him the strength to face two major traumas back-to-back. In April of 2022, Garren was declared cancer-free! Today, Garren is taking classes in biblical studies. He says he has known for a long time that he is meant to be a pastor. His journey through these difficult trials has solidified that for him. His hope for his future is to lead as many people as possible to Christ. 

Garren says he wants others who may be going through a similar journey to know, “Even when times are dark, and you feel broken or beaten down – you will get better. There is recovery, and God will take care of you and deliver you from this temporary pain.”

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