Orchard Park toddler beats brain cancer, his mother now on mission to raise awareness

Orchard Park

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — In July of 2018, Carson Barnhart was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer. “I just never thought that it would be a tumor, he’s a five-month-old baby. But it was,” said Carson’s mother Kelly Barnhart.

Just two days later, he underwent surgery to remove the tumor.

“They took the whole tumor out it was gone, but his oncologist told us that if we didn’t do treatment it would come back.”

Carson received chemotherapy for a year through Oishei Children’s Hospital and Roswell. His mother added, “he’s just an incredible warrior it’s just unbelievable.”

He’s now been in remission since 2019, getting scans every four months.

“He has some deficits from his treatment, where the tumor was and some things he will struggle with, with his life, but he’s happy, he’s healthy and he’s here,” said Kelly.

Carson recently celebrated a huge milestone — his third birthday.

His mother said, “I’m grateful for that every day. He’s smart, silly fun, everything a three-year-old should be and he doesn’t know what he’s been through which is a unique part of this experience too. He has no idea.”

To help him understand one day, his aunt who is also a nurse, wrote a book about his journey. Looking back puts things in perspective for the entire family. “I’m definitely a different person than I was three years ago. I get more emotional, I mean not just about Carson’s story but about life in general. It changed me this journey,” added Kelly.

So now Kelly is advocating for others going through the same diagnosis.

“I want to give back and do everything I can to spread awareness and make people know that this is happening. It’s not rare — kids are getting sick and deserve more funding.”

And she hopes sharing Carson’s story will give others a sense of hope.

“I look at Carson and say he’s going through this. I’m going to go through this and choose hope.”

Gabrielle Mediak is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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