Katelyn and Braelyn Atkins

How Braelyn Atkins Is Beating The Odds

2-Year-Old Cancer Patient Helps Select BMW Raffle Finalists

Meet Braelyn, 2, and mom Katelyn Atkins of Leesburg, Georgia. They helped determine the finalists in our 2021 BMW Raffle drawing on November 10 and have been staying with us for 21 days at our Ronald McDonald House near Egleston and partner hotels.

Katelyn Atkins and Braelyn

Katelyn and Braelyn enjoy a beautiful day outside.

“Thank you to the BMW dealers,” Katelyn says. “Being able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House is a complete blessing. For them to donate an expensive car to raise money to support us is absolutely amazing for families, families like mine. I’m very thankful for them.”

Braelyn has been in treatment for Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor, a fast-growing cancer that affects the central nervous system. She was diagnosed right after her second birthday.

“On April 28, we woke up at 4 a.m. to Braelyn having a seizure in our bed,” Katelyn says. This happened after a month of Braelyn being in and out of the hospital and very lethargic.

Later that morning, Braelyn was diagnosed with a fast growing tumor. “It was a breath of fresh air to know she had a brain tumor,” Katelyn says. “It meant that there was something wrong that could be treated. She was airlifted immediately to Scottish Rite.”

Because her cancer is fast growing, her doctors started treatment immediately. Braelyn has had surgery to remove the original tumor, which was half the size of her brain and 5 cycles of chemotherapy with stem cell transplants. She will start radiation the week of Thanksgiving.

“The doctors want to kill any remaining cancer cells as quickly as possible,” Katelyn says. “Her doctors are really surprised by how well she is responding to treatment. She is beating the odds.”

“The Ronald McDonald House gave me somewhere to live. I’m very thankful for it,” Katelyn says of staying with us. “There is food when we are hungry. Drinks downstairs when we are thirsty. We don’t have family in Atlanta and it is very nerve wrecking to come up here with just me and her. We feel safe here.”

For Braelyn, her favorite thing about the House is getting to play outdoors. At the hospital she was only allowed out of her room at a designated time because of COVID protocols. “She loves being outside. You don’t realize what you have until it is gone. After five months of being at the hospital, just being able to come outside and touch the grass is such a blessing.”