This is a touching story about an 11 year old boy named Bradley Zugel, who happens to be a huge Van Halen fan. Bradley was recently diagnosed with cancer. His wish, through the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northern Nevada, is to meet guitarist Eddie Van Halen.
The first part of the story was published Dec. 15th, 2008 in the Reno Gazette-Journal:
Boy Diagnosed With Lymphoblastic Lymphoma Fights Back
By Carla Roccapriore
A cough that resulted in a visit to an urgent care facility for Bradley Zugel turned out to be more than an autumn bug.
The 11-year-old Sparks, Nevada boy’s X-ray in late September showed a large mass in his chest, so a CT scan followed, said Michelle Zugel, Bradley’s mother.
Zugel was informed the following day her son had lymphoblastic lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It’s caused by a cancerous growth of cells in the lymphatic system, which normally helps the body destroy and filter out bacteria and other harmful substances.
“He was on his field trip en route to San Francisco, and I called my husband (who was traveling with Bradley) on the bus,” Zugel said. “The bus stopped in Sacramento, and he rented a car and drove Bradley to Oakland Children’s Hospital.”
Bradley was withdrawn from Spanish Springs Elementary School because being around too many other people puts him at risk for infection, Zugel said.
Bradley is being treated at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland by Drs. Caroline Hastings and Robert Raphael, who couldn’t be reached for comment Friday. However, Zugel said physicians from the hospital sometimes visit the area, so some of Bradley’s treatments are done locally.
“Every month is different,” Zugel said. “It (travel to Oakland) could be up to four times per month.”
Although chemotherapy treatments have been difficult on Bradley, he and the family do things to get their minds off the illness.
“We’re home a lot as a family, and he plays guitar and so does my husband,” Zugel said.
The 1978 Van Halen song, “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” is one of the songs Bradley enjoys playing most.
In fact, his request through the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northern Nevada is to meet guitarist Eddie Van Halen. Make-A-Wish enriches the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions through its wish-granting work.
Several fundraisers have been held to help cover Bradley’s medical expenses, and the next one is a “cut-a-thon” scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at A Salon 7, 20 Cheney St.
Reno resident Kristen Baker, a stylist at the salon, is organizing the event. Zugel is one of her clients.
Baker said her husband is a cancer survivor, and she knows how fast medical bills pile up, even if one has insurance.
“It’s important to show the community can pull together to help others,” Baker said. “It’s nice to see there are people out there who care.”
The Zugels, who also have a 13-year-old son, Jake, have health insurance. Zugel is a dental hygienist, and husband Kevin Zugel is a schoolteacher.
“Bills are still coming in on portions we still owe,” she said.
The second part of our story comes from Bradley’s father, yesterday:
Bradley is my son. Bradley has been doing well with the treatments. Thank God for modern medicine. He is now in remission and in what is called “maintenance phase.” He still has chemo for another 16 months, but less brutal than the first. His hair is growing back and I took him to school today for a half day. He is feeling like a kid again and I cannot express how proud I am of him.
He wants to meet Eddie not for what he did in 1978, but for his entire career of awesome music. His first and second concerts were VH this last tour in Sacramento and in Reno. His third concert was Rush and we are now counting down to see Metallica in December. Bradley is a true rocker. His Ipod is full of the music I loved as a kid, with every VH song ever recorded. He plays guitar and is quite awesome. Type “Zugel” in youtube and you can see a couple videos of him and his brother. He tears up “Im the One.”
Even bigger than a great musician meeting a young fan is the fact that Eddie is a cancer survivor himself, as well as a dad. We are going to LA in a couple of weeks to meet him and my son is beyond excited. I am so grateful to Eddie for agreeing, and for everyone who has been so helpful during this very rough time for Bradley and our family. Music has been a great healer.
Bradley playing “I’m The One:”