Franklin Student Fighting Rare Brain Cancer; Fundraiser to Be Held on August 24

| August 21, 2019

FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – A child’s bump on the head while enjoying time on a trampoline led to the discovery of something horrifying for a local family.

Eleven-year-old Dakota Lapinsky-Braden, who currently attends Central Elementary in Franklin, was an average kid just enjoying some time on his family’s new trampoline when a minor accident set off a series of unexpected and unsettling events.

Dakota and one of his friends knocked their heads together while jumping on the trampoline. They both seemed fine at first, but the next day Dakota woke up with a terrible, pounding headache. His mother, Elyssa Lapinsky, said she first gave him Tylenol, but when that didn’t help, they decided to go to the emergency room.

At the hospital, the doctors gave Dakota a stronger pain reliever to try to break the headache, but it didn’t work. Two hours later, the doctors tried another medication which finally broke the pain that he was experiencing. He also had a CT scan at the hospital, and the doctors ruled that he had suffered a concussion.

He was sent home with instructions to take Tylenol if the pain returned.

Two days later, the pain returned, and Dakota woke up in tears. The family returned to the emergency room where the doctors performed another CT scan, this time with contrast.

That was when things started to get scary for the family.

“They life-flighted him to Pittsburgh that day,” Elyssa told

Elyssa wasn’t permitted to go with him in the helicopter, so she drove to Children’s Hospital where the doctors performed another CT scan and an MRI. However, the doctors still believed Dakota’s symptoms were related to a concussion until his test results were handed over to someone in the Neurology Department.

“They read it and said ‘no, we want a consult, we need to see him in the clinic,'” Elyssa said.

Dakota then had an angiogram through the Neurology Clinic, and the results were not good. The doctors discovered he had what they believed was either a tumor or a malformation of blood-filled cells, but they needed to do surgery to get a clearer view.

“I was a mess. This is my firstborn child, and I was just extremely overwhelmed. But, I told them ‘If he’s gotta have it done, then let’s get it done.'”

The initial brain surgery took just over five hours.

“They called us into the surgery waiting room back area and said they got the bigger tumor, but the MRI showed smaller ones around his frontal lobe.”

The results of the biopsy of the tumor were also less than heartening. The doctors found that Dakota’s tumor was a Neuroepithelial brain tumor, and although they are nearly always benign, Dakota’s tumor was malignant.

“I just sat down and cried,” Elyssa said. “We talked to oncology then, and they wanted to work at radiation first, to see if they could knock some of those (smaller tumors) down.”

Dakota then began radiation treatments, five days per week for six weeks straight. He and his mother stayed at the Ronald McDonald House during the week and tried to come home on the weekends that he felt well enough to travel.

The radiation treatments also took a serious toll on his body. He suffered burns on his skin along his spine the entire way down his back.

Following those initial treatments, the doctors ordered another MRI, but the news wasn’t what they were hoping for. The scan showed growth in the remaining tumors.

Dakota then moved on to chemotherapy, doing four rounds over four months at the highest concentration they could use for his height and weight.

His next MRI following the chemo gave the family slightly better news: his tumors had stopped growing.

“It didn’t show any growth, but it didn’t show any shrinkage, either. They’re just stable,” Elyssa noted.

Currently, Dakota is between treatments. He is going to have his port flushed every six weeks and will be having another MRI in November to check on the tumors.

In the meantime, he’s also looking forward to returning to school, though he does have some difficulties, including some issues with his tailbone that came up during his radiation treatment that may require physical therapy.

According to Elyssa, the family is also trying to get more involved in cancer-related activities for awareness and fundraising.

“The community here has been so generous to us,” she noted.

The community is also pulling together to help the family again with a fundraiser event scheduled for Saturday, August 24.

The event will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Cooperstown Pavilions, located at 203 Factory Street, in Cooperstown.

There will be a bounce house from Jones Party Magic, Knockerball from Linesville, as well as a face painter from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The event will include a 50/50 Bicycle Raffle with 15 new children’s bikes available to choose from. Raffle tickets are $2.00 each. A Chinese auction will also be available with ticket sales beginning at 9:00 a.m. and drawings to be held at 3:00 p.m. Chinese auction tickets are $3.00 for 10 or $5.00 for 20.

T-shirts will be sold for $15.00 each and wristbands will be available for $3.00 each. There will also be hotdogs and chips available for purchase for $1.00 each from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. or until they are sold out.

All proceeds from the event will be given to the family to help with medical bills and expenses for Dakota.

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