Ask Braden Berry who is his favorite superhero and you’ll get more than one answer. It’s Spiderman. And Batman. And the Hulk. He’s undecided on his Halloween costume, but let there be no doubt his final choice will be mighty and powerful.
“He wants to be the Hulk this year, but I’m waiting a couple of weeks to buy a costume because next week he’ll want to be Spiderman,” said Braden’s mother, Andrea. “He loves superheroes; his favorite changes daily.”
Though Braden might not realize it, he’s just as strong and just as resilient as the superheroes he admires. Born in June 2011, Braden was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 1 week old after doctors discovered a bowel obstruction. Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease that causes mucus to build up and clog organs in the body, particularly the lungs, pancreas and digestive system. When mucus clogs the lungs, it can make breathing difficult. Approximately 30,000 people in the U.S. have cystic fibrosis. An additional 10 million more – or about one in every 31 Americans – are carriers of the defective cystic fibrosis gene, but do not have the disease.
The multi-disciplinary care team at the Cystic Fibrosis Center at Children’s of Alabama immediately placed Braden on enzyme replacement therapy. The treatment helps patients digest food by replacing digestive enzymes that are normally released by the pancreas.
“At the time, I had no idea what cystic fibrosis was, but we learned,” Andrea said. “There’ve been a lot of hospital stays and a lot of surgeries, but Braden’s been so high-spirited.”
Since starting enzyme therapy and undergoing surgery, Braden has not experienced much sickness, Andrea said. Initially, Braden visited Children’s once of month. He now visits every three months.
“There’s not very many things Braden does not enjoy doing. He enjoys fishing and being outside, and he loves to ride the tractor,” Andrea said. “He’s a real country boy.”
Braden adores his doctor, Hector Gutierrez, M.D., also director of the Cystic Fibrosis Center. Gutierrez has been by Braden’s side since day one, Andrea said, and the two share a special bond.
“Dr. Gutierrez has been amazing and I couldn’t ask for a better team,” Andrea said. “Every time we visit the hospital, it’s like going to see your family. The whole cystic fibrosis team has been beyond exceptional with me and Braden. I can’t talk highly enough about them.”