GRAND MEADOW, Minn. - Football is welcome anytime in Grand Meadow, even in the sweltering heat of mid-July.
Yes, there's still plenty of summer left, but football camp is a gentle reminder that August, and practice, isn't far away.
Football is what young boys in this small southeast Minnesota town dream of, including, and especially, Brennan Miland.
The fact, this junior-to-be is even wearing a football helmet is enough right now.
That's because for far too long, Brennan's football hopes have been put on hold.
A pesky brain tumor and arduous chemo treatment has sidelined him for two years.
Two long years.
“When you're on chemo you can't really do things, but after getting off trying to get into more things I used to like, “says Brennan.
Brennan is the youngest of two, his older brother Jordan, a former Grand Meadow football star, and now a Marine.
Big shoes to fill, but Brennan just wanted the chance. But cancer got in the way starting when he was 8 years old.
“His testosterone level was as high as full adult man at eight years old, “says his mom, Shannan.
She says doctors at the Mayo clinic discovered a tumor pushing on Brennan's pituitary gland and optic nerve.
It was causing accelerated growth and it was basically inoperable.
Doctors decided to treat the tumor with chemotherapy two years ago, which meant Brennan's varsity football career consisted of just one game, opening day of his freshman season.
“Last time he played was two years ago and I remember playing with him in that game knowing it was going to be last game hoping he play hard as he can, “says Zach Myhre, Grand Meadow senior.
He did play hard, but since then, nothing but hospitals, doctors and chemo treatment. A treatment that unfortunately didn't work after a year and a half.
It left Brennan heartbroken but still determined.
“I think a lot of people dealt a bad hand if you want call it that, they tend to get down and have negative attitude and Brennan not been that way, he's been positive and said he's going to beat this even when not feeling well has attitude going to beat this, “ says Gary Sloan, Grand Meadow head coach.
Fast forward to late August, and guess what? Brennan Miland is putting on the football pads for the first time in two years.
How is that possible? Well the tumor hasn't grown, and in late July, his doctor determined it was safe to play, as long as he took out the port in his chest that was used for his chemo treatment.
That's all Brennan had to hear.
“He knew that his next MRI wasn't going to be until three months, football is about three months he wanted his port out –even though she didn't totally recommend it –she wasn't going to stop him, so here he is (laugh)”, says Shannan.
A window of opportunity. Three months. There's a good chance the port will go back in and a new chemo treatment will be tried. But not for three months. And hopefully for Brennan, three long, beautiful months.
“It's great for him to be who he wants to be and especially because he's been told no, no, no and for the next three months, no one is going to tell him no (laugh),” says Shannan.
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