This Year’s Happy Smackah Faces Grim Cancer Prognosis, Puts Hope in Cannabis Oil
Happy Smackah’s Braden Fund
To donate to the Happy Smackah fund to help Braden Stevenson and his family, visit happysmackah.com/braden-fund-2017. Happy Smackah is a 501c3 nonprofit organization and donations are tax-deductible.
Braden Stevenson, the 2017 Happy Smackah, is still in good spirits despite recently receiving grim news about his cancer prognosis.
Stevenson, 17, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in late 2016 and underwent surgery and chemotherapy this year.
Surgeons told the Longmont teen and his family on Tuesday that the cancerous nodules in his lungs had increased from 12 to 40, making surgery an unwise choice.
That news means that doctors are fairly confident Stevenson’s cancer can’t be cured medically. He is going to be set up with hospice and will take an oral pill to continue chemotherapy and limit his time at the hospital.
But Stevenson and his mother, Amy Ronzani, are determined not to give up. They’re starting Stevenson on a cannabis oil treatment. Ronzani said they don’t know if it will work, but they’re hoping Stevenson recovers.
“There are lots and lots and lots of stories of people who have hit this kind of fence that we’re at and were told that there’s not a whole lot that the doctors can do and they use the cannabis oil and become cancer-free,” Ronzani said. “So that’s our best avenue at this point.”
Ronzani said that donations are still needed to Stevenson’s Happy Smackah fund, especially because cannabis oil is not covered by insurance and dosages can run upwards of $75 per day.
The Happy Smackah Fun Run is an annual 5K fundraiser that began in 2011 in order to benefit Dan Cribby, a St. Vrain Valley School District educator who had his arm and shoulder amputated and needed serious skin grafts.
Cribby is from Maine, and so when he calls someone a happy smacker (a good-natured person enjoying life), it comes out “happy smackah.” Cribby recovered and is teaching again.
Stevenson was selected as the 2017 Happy Smackah because of his positive attitude throughout his cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy.
When he was a sophomore at Longmont High School, Stevenson broke his right leg for seemingly no reason. When his surgeons were working to repair the break, they found a malignant bone-cancer tumor growing in his leg that caused the break.
Surgeons removed the midsection of his right leg in March and moved his ankle and tibia up where his femur and knee used to be, so that he has a shorter right leg with a backward foot attached at the end.
Despite undergoing chemotherapy this year, the cancer has spread to Stevenson’s lungs.
A record 848 runners turned out for the 2017 Happy Smackah Fun Run at McIntosh Lake in May to benefit Stevenson’s family.
Karen Clancy-Cribby, Dan’s wife and the organizer of the fun run, said the 5K raised $25,000 for Stevenson’s family. Clancy-Cribby said the Happy Smackah board of directors came together to see what they could do for Stevenson and Ronzani even as they prepare to select a new Happy Smackah for 2018.
“Because we are a 501c3), we made a link so that people can donate directly to Braden through our organization because we’re already a nonprofit. We thought that creating a nonprofit place for people to donate and then reaching out to our community could help,” Clancy-Cribby said. “We hope that’ll gain some traction and that people will reach out and help.
“We are doing what we can.”
Ronzani said in a phone interview Tuesday that her son is still the upbeat, positive kid that he’s always been.
“There’s always a smile on his face. There are moments when it hits both of us harder than others and we’ve just adapted to live each day, day-by-day. You do what you can with each day,” she said. “His positive attitude definitely helps everyone around him. When we do have those bad moments, it’s heartbreaking. There are no other words to describe it.”
Stevenson said he’s grateful to all his supporters.
“I would say if they’re going through something that’s hard, just don’t give up,” he said.
Karen Antonacci: 303-684-5226, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/ktonacci