The radiation wasn’t the end of Dean’s road to recovery. He began chemotherapy last April, Sandra said. Wayne explained that it involved three different cycles of both inpatient and outpatient treatment. He completed chemotherapy two weeks before Hurricane Sandy brought a tree down on the Brownworths’ home. In spite of the damage and the power outage, they forged on to the hospital so Dean could get better.
Dean takes only one antibiotic now, instead of a lengthy list of medications that Sandra had to document in a notebook to remember. He returned to school on Jan. 2.
In order to graduate with his class in June, he took the SATs and Regents exams in his kitchen while he was still in treatment. Seinfeld and district officials arranged for tutors to come to the Brownworths’ home, and some even to the hospital. Dean may not have been happy to sit with teachers in his house while he was feeling so sick, his mother said, but she added that she hopes he is looking forward to commencement with his friends and starting college in the fall.
Wayne explained that Dean managed to stay in touch with his friends through social media while he was out of school, although he missed seeing them. He also missed sports, and worked to get in shape for both basketball and baseball this year. Dean said he wouldn’t have gotten to that point if it weren’t for the support of his family and friends.
“It was hard to try and remain positive and not get upset over this,” he said. “But I think that was the most important thing: staying positive and having people there supporting you, knowing that you’re going to get out of it OK.”
Sandra noted that Dean’s strength through the entire process — the fact that he never complained, that he smiled at his doctors — was inspiring to her and her husband as well as the Calhoun community.
Dean was voted Homecoming King earlier this year, as his classmates were preparing for his return. He was honored at the St. Baldrick’s fundraiser by Calhoun last year, and by the foundation itself this year. He said he feels honored when people tell him they look up to him.