'No more cancer, no more pain, no more fighting.' Community gathers for Kyler Bradley

Even before the first candle was lit or the first scripture was read, the more than 100 people who gathered outside the home of Kyler Bradley heard the news they were praying against: The 10-year-old had been taken off a ventilator earlier in the day.

When Pastor Drew Wilkerson from BridgeWater Church made the announcement, tears streamed down the faces of those who stood on the front lawn of his home and parents hugged their children even tighter.

They gathered Tuesday night to pray for Kyler, who battled a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer. A fifth-grader at Fairfield Intermediate School, he was diagnosed on Oct. 16, 2015, with the inoperable brain cancer diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, commonly known as DIPG.

After the prayer vigil, Wilkerson said Kyler’s quality of life was “slipping” so his parents, Anthony and Rebecca, decided to remove his ventilator.

After the vigil, at about 8 p.m. Tuesday night, Kyler died, according to Wilkerson.

The young boy now has “no more cancer, no more pain, no more fighting,” he said.

Wilkerson said Kyler and his family attended BridgeWater Church a few weeks ago, and at the end of the service, members formed a circle around the young boy. He became a Christian conduit.

“He brought all of us closer to God,” the pastor said. During these turbulent times, especially in the political arena, Kyler has shown that “we are better together,” Wilkerson said.

Throughout the prayer vigil, many of those in attendance wore “Kyler Strong” T-shirts and volunteers passed out “Kyler Strong” wristbands. There were two signs in the home’s windows that read: “Kyler Our Hero.” A sign on the front door simply read: “Please no visitors at this time.”

Wilkerson said it was the family’s wish that those at the vigil pray that Kyler “passes peacefully when God calls him home.”

It was about one year ago that College of Mount St. Joseph basketball player Lauren Hill died from the same pediatric cancer. Her fight raised millions of dollars and brought national attention to the disease. Kyler had said he wanted to become a celebrity and use his disease as a platform.

“His legacy is his love of his family, you and God,” the pastor said.

Fairfield Twp. Fire Chief Tim Thomas looked over the throng of people and said: “I’m very proud of this community. You have touched all of us. This could be any one of our families.”

When news of Kyler’s illness came to the fire department, it tore at the hearts of firefighters, he said.

“It was an easy decision for the fire department to pull Kyler into our fold and give him whatever support and comfort we could. It was a great pleasure to make him an honorary fire chief and make him part of our family,” Thomas said.

One mother in the crowd has walked the path of Kyler’s parents. Tiffany Taylor, of Deer Park, lost her son, Jacob, 9, to DIPG in 2010. She brought another son, Nathan, 12, to the vigil.

When asked to describe the pain of losing a child to DIPG, she said: “It takes away everything but their brain function. They know what’s going on, but they can’t use their arms. They can’t communicate but they are fully aware. As a parent when you watch your child go through that, it’s unbearable.”

She paused, looked at the crowd that refused to leave, and added: “This disease is relentless. It’s a monster. It doesn’t give up until it takes over everything in a child’s body. You are helpless to do anything.”

Brain cancer unites Hamilton residents with Lauren Hill’s family

About the Author